Oxfordshire residents say ‘yes’ to be smoke free by 2025

Local residents have given their feedback to say they support the Oxfordshire Tobacco Control Strategy - that will encourage a smoke free society – when it launches on ‘World No Tobacco Day’ (Sunday 31 May).

The Strategy outlines a vision for Oxfordshire to be first smoke free county in five years’ time. This is defined when adult smoking rates reach 5% by 2025 – five years sooner than aimed for in the Government's national Tobacco Control Plan for England.

Tobacco control is an umbrella term often used to describe the broad range of activities that aim to reduce smoking prevalence and reduce exposure to second- hand smoke.

The strategy was developed by the Oxfordshire Tobacco Control Alliance (OTCA). This is a partnership that includes: County, District and City Councils, Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and Oxford University Hospital Foundation Trust who are all committed to denormalizing smoking.

The OTCA aims to achieve its vision through four key themes:

  • Prevention
  • Local Regulation and Enforcement
  • Creating Smoke Free Environments
  • Supporting Smokers to Quit

The Strategy is based on a consultation that took place from 11th March to 11th April 2020. 233 responses were submitted from residents of Oxfordshire, members of the public, those employed in Oxfordshire and also those in a professional capacity.

General feedback from the public consultation included:

  • There was overall support (64%) for the Strategy’s main aim, of creating a smoke free Oxfordshire by 2025.
  • There was overall support for the Strategy’s four key pillars
  • The ‘Prevention’ pillar had the greatest amount of support, particularly with enforcing legislation which protects the health of young people, for example underage sales of cigarettes.

Cllr Andrew McHugh is the Lead Member for Health & Wellbeing: ‘I would like to thank people who took the time to provide their feedback and their opinions about this Strategy. As Chairman of the Oxfordshire Health Improvement Board, I recognise tobacco to be the most serious cause of preventable disease and early death. I am delighted to be working with our Alliance partners to support the Strategy. Together we are looking forward to a healthier Smoke Free Oxfordshire’.

The final version of the Strategy launches on 31st May 2020 and it can be found on Oxfordshire County Councils public health webpages at www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/publichealth

Despite a decline in smoking rates in recent years, 10.1% of adults in Oxfordshire continue to smoke. Smoking remains England’s single greatest cause of preventable illness and avoidable death, resulting in 78,000 deaths from smoking-related diseases in 2016 alone. It kills more people each year than obesity, alcohol, drug misuse, traffic accidents and HIV combined. It is also the cause of many preventable illnesses such as cancer, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, strokes and cardiovascular disease. 

In addition to its impact on health, smoking also brings a huge financial cost. Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) estimates the cost of smoking to Oxfordshire’s economy to be £121.7 million each year. Beyond the significant cost to the health and social care system, it also impacts the local economy through sick days and lost productivity. 

For local support to quit smoking go to: https://www.smokefreelifeoxfordshire.co.uk/

Anyone with information about the illegal sale of tobacco should contact: 0300 999 6 999, or report it anonymously via the website www.stop-illegal-tobacco.co.uk

Please note: the photograph was taken on ‘No Smoking Day', 11 March 2020 when the consultation for the Tobacco Control Strategy was launched. This was before social distancing and lock down rules begun.