Yorkshire is Cutting Down on Smoking
2019 statistics quoted by the Yorkshire Cancer Research Organisation show that smoking rates in Yorkshire remain the highest in England. Public Health England noted there was a smoking rate of 16.2% compared to the significantly lower England average of 14.4%. When translated into numbers, more than 700 000 smokers were living in Yorkshire.
The good news is that even though these figures are high, they are on a downward trend from 2011 where 21.8% of the Yorkshire population smoked. However, on the other hand, neither the Yorkshire nor the North England smoking rates have reached the UK government’s 2020 target of 13% smoking rate. To achieve this goal, more than 137 000 smokers would need to quit before the end of 2020.
Dr Stuart Griffiths, Director of Research and Services at Yorkshire Cancer Research, noted that “while it’s encouraging that rates are gradually declining, the statistics clearly show that smoking remains a huge issue in Yorkshire.”
Therefore, the question that begs is how to continue reducing the Yorkshire smoking rates. By way of answering this question, let’s consider the following points.
1. Use nicotine-based alternatives
Public Health England has reported that vaping or e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than smoking. Consequently, these findings are used to support the use of e-cigarettes and e-liquids UK as an effective way to quit smoking.
When a cigarette is lit, the tobacco inside burns to generate the smoke that people breathe in. Not only does this cigarette smoke contain nicotine, which is highly addictive, but it also has thousands of chemicals, of which over 600 are said to be cancer-causing. The burning tobacco also releases hot tar, which coats the small air passages as the smoke filters through the lungs.
Vaping a nicotine-based e-liquid gives the person vaping the nicotine without other harmful chemicals found in tobacco. It is also important to note that nicotine-based e-liquids are manufactured with different nicotine strengths, allowing the smoker to transition off the acquired dependence on nicotine slowly.
Note: Nicotine is highly addictive. The website, healthline.com, describes the nature of this addition.
In summary, this addiction is physical, mental, and behavioural.
• Physical in that habitual users crave the chemical; thus, increasing the nicotine dependence and the number of cigarettes smoked over time to satisfy the nicotine craving.
• Mental in that users consciously crave the effects nicotine has on the brain’s chemicals like dopamine.
• Behavioural in that smokers become dependent on behaviours or actions involving tobacco, such as the need to smoke after a meal.
2. Local government intervention
The best way to reduce tobacco-usage rates in a community is to implement a multi-pronged approach. In other words, both the individual smokers and the local government have to work together for any chance of success.
It is well-known that smoking remains one of Yorkshire’s and, by extension, England’s most significant public health challenges. Additionally, smoking is the primary cause of preventable disease and death, not only in smokers but in non-smokers as well, for they breathe in second-hand smoke.
Smoking rates are not the same across all of the Yorkshire communities. These smoking rates are much higher amongst the more impoverished districts. And, according to nypartnerships.org.uk, “smoking is the single biggest cause of inequalities in death rates between the richest and poorest in our communities.”
Thus, the local government must play an active role in communities’ health and well-being by actively promoting the need to reduce smoking rates in all societies, irrespective of social and economic standing.
Local government officials from all government departments must work together to spread a unified message that smoking is harmful to human health, especially to non-smokers who breathe in second-hand smoke and unborn babies whose pregnant mothers’ smoke.
3. National government support of local government
As highlighted above, the local government’s drive to reduce the cigarette smoking rate cannot be undertaken alone. The national government must undergird it. For instance, a no-public-smoking policy must be implemented at a national level. Current and potential smokers need clarity on where they are allowed to smoke in public. And these definite, clear-cut boundaries are only implementable at a national level.
For instance, the UK government must draw up a cohesive, clear policy on smoking in public. And this must be implemented right across the UK. A lack of clarity results in confusion. And confusion increases stress levels, which in turn drives up smoking rates.
Secondly, suppose each county or community were to design and implement their own smoking policies. In that case, they might be clear to the residents of the particular community but will confuse visitors to the area. In summary, confusion or a lack of clarity is not good on any level, whether national or local. As described above, complexity and a lack of understanding are counterintuitive to reducing smoking rates.