The huge majority of adults in the North East support the change to public smoking laws which came into affect 10 years ago this week.
In the North East 86% of adults support “smokefree” in 2017 and only 5% oppose the law, which was introduced on July 1, 2007, to protect people from secondhand smoke in pubs, restaurants, bars, shops, offices and workplaces, including workplace vehicles.
Smoking rates in the North East began to fall dramatically from 2005 as a major campaign for a Smoke Free North East began, and continued action to tackle smoking has resulted in the largest drop in smoking in England between 2005 and 2017.
The North East has seen:
• 86% support for smokefree law in 2017 among North East adults, with only 5% opposing it.
• 97% compliance from day one of the law, with many businesses going smokefree voluntarily before the 2007 law came into force. In 2006, 750 North East organisations won National Clean Air Awards - a third of the national total.
• Fewer heart attacks – in the year after smokefree legislation, there was a 2.4% reduction in hospital admissions nationally for heart attacks, with 1,200 fewer emergency admissions in a single year. In the three years following the law’s introduction, there were almost 7,000 fewer hospital admissions for childhood asthma.
• The largest fall in smoking rates in England since 2005, when 29% of North East adults smoked. Rates plummeted down to 25% of people smoking in 2006 and 22% in 2007 as smokers prepared for the law and became more aware of secondhand smoke. New figures in June 2017 show the latest North East smoking prevalence to be 17.2% - the lowest rate on record and nearly 218,000 fewer people smoking since 2005.
The ban has been backed by Mark Rycraft, centre manager for Middleton Grange Shopping Centre.
He said: “Since the smoke free law took effect, the centre has seen a definite improvement, offering a much cleaner and healthier shopping experience to our customers.
“We now consider Middleton Grange a great family friendly destination that is a safe environment to bring children.
“We’re huge advocates of promoting a positive lifestyle and through our health and wellbeing programme we promote the benefits of quitting smoking.
“Since the law came into effect several of our staff members have subsequently quit smoking.”