Birmingham steps up the smoking fight

By on 05/07/2012 in Cllr Bedser, News
Cllr Steve Bedser

Cllr Steve Bedser

Figures released today show Birmingham is leading the fight against smoking, with public health campaigns helping a record 10,000 people kick the habit over the last 12 months.

And City Council Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Steve Bedser, believes moves to strip cigarette packets of branding will further boost efforts to cut the number of smokers across the city.

Speaking as he welcomed Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham to Birmingham, Cllr Bedser revealed the new Birmingham focus will be on reducing uptake of smoking by young people, continuing to provide help to people who want to give up smoking, reducing access to counterfeit tobacco and maintaining and creating smokefree environments.

He said: “Our Smoking Services in Birmingham have grown from strength to strength since they were launched in 2001, going from helping just 300 in the first year to over 10,000 in the last 12 months. That's a UK record.

“This is work that really does make a difference as evidence shows that smokers are four times more likely to quit smoking if they access support from a local NHS Stop Smoking Service.

“The last Labour Government took a real lead on this issue, introducing the smokefree legislation in 2007. We're building on that good work in Birmingham and a growing number of smokers across the city are taking advantage of the fantastic support available.”

A nationwide consultation on plain packaging draws to a close next month (August 10) and Birmingham's Tobacco Control Alliance, chaired by Cllr Bedser, has responded in favour of standardised packs.

The response recommends that the proposed legislation covers all forms of tobacco, and that the brand names and cigarette stick designs should also be controlled to prevent these being used for brand differentiation and promotion.

Cllr Bedser added: “In the UK around 80% of smokers start before the age of 18 and in Birmingham, around a third of 16-24 year olds are actively smoking. We believe the legislation will help to protect children from the harms of tobacco.

“There is evidence to show that plain or standardised packs are less appealing to young people, while plain packs will also enhance the effectiveness of the picture health warnings currently displayed on cigarette packs in motivating smokers to quit.”

The success of the stop smoking services in Birmingham is attributable to the accessibility and quality support offered to smokers. In Birmingham, there are over 300 stop smoking providers offering support. To smokers. One to one and group clinics are available at a range of settings including local pharmacies, General Practices and other venues such as local supermarkets and even at 'Quit Stop Shop' has been established.

Smokers are provided with confidential support and advice from a trained advisor and offered Nicotine Replacement Therapy such as the gum and patches. Services are free to any smoker living or working in Birmingham.

For further information on quitting and to find out about local clinics contact 'Call2Quit' on free phone 0800 052 5855 or text 'Quit' to 80 800. Alternatively, go to:


Notes to editors

Photographs are available to download here:

  • In Birmingham around 1 in 5 adults smoke, equating to around 185,000 smokers.
  • very year over 4,500 people die in Birmingham from a smoking related disease.

Smoking is directly linked with Birmingham's three biggest killers, and is directly attributable to:

  • 1 in 4 of all cancers,
  • 1 in 5 deaths from cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke),
  • 1 in 3 of all deaths from respiratory disease

Quitting smoking has been shown to have significant health benefits. Research has reported that a smoker who quits by the age of 30 years can increase their life expectancy by 10 years and quitting at the age of 50 halves the risk of smoking related mortality .

Treating diseases caused by smoking is estimated to cost the NHS around £5.2 billion every year equating to about 5.5% of all NHS expenditure.

Smoking causes significant economic burden both in terms of increased health expenditure and cost to the Birmingham economy in the form of absenteeism, working days lost and premature retirement. Premature deaths from smoking is estimated to cost the Birmingham economy £24m each year.

Providing NHS Stop Smoking Services is just one approach to reducing the number of smokers in Birmingham. Through the leadership of Councillor Bedser, the city has a reinvigorated a successful Tobacco Control Alliance that brings together key partners from across the city to tackle tobacco-related issues. The 2011/12 tobacco control action plan focuses on work around reducing uptake of smoking by young people, reducing access to counterfeit tobacco and maintaining and creating smokefree environments.

For more information contact Geoff Coleman on 0121 303 3501

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