The first of January is the day when people make a New Year’s resolution. This year, Andrew Jones, Executive Director of Public Health for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board urges smokers in Wales to get help to quit.
“The figures show that smoking continues to be the single greatest avoidable cause of death in Wales and is also a considerable cost to the NHS. Smokers who call Wales’s Stop Smoking service for support are four times more likely to stop," he said.”
Latest figures suggest that 23 per cent of the population of Wales smoke regularly.
The highest rate of smoking is in Blaenau Gwent where 28 per cent of the population smoke.
The Welsh Government has a target of reducing the percentage of people who smoke to 20 per cent by 2016 and to 16 per cent by 2020.
Carol Owen, Principal Health Promotion Specialist leading the Stop Smoking Wales service. sees this as the main challenge for 2013: “The service has a key role in reducing the impact of tobacco on the health of people in Wales.
"To reach the target set by the Welsh Government we need to make sure young people don’t start smoking in the first place and encourage those who do smoke to seek help to quit.
"In 2013, the service will continue to offer evidence based support to adult smokers who want to stop smoking as well as look at new and different ways of engaging with younger smokers as part of our overall commitment to reducing smoking prevalence in Wales.”.
Smoking costs the NHS a large part of its budget with 27,700 hospital admissions attributable to smoking each year in Wales, of those, over 9,000 can be attributed to each of circulatory disease and respiratory disease and over 7,000 to malignant cancers.
Around one in six women in Wales smoke throughout their pregnancy – the highest rate throughout the whole of the UK. Smoking in pregnancy can lead to an increased risk of miscarriage, premature births, low birth weights and congenital anomalies in the baby.
The smoking habit often runs in families and peer groups and although the majority of smokers say they want to stop the highly addictive nature of smoking makes it a challenge for many. Each year around 16,000 people contact Stop Smoking Wales for help to quit.
Contact the service on 0800 085 2219.