City Tops Smoking Death Statistics

The Plymouth Herald
2 October 2008

PLYMOUTH has the highest rate of premature deaths due to smoking in the South West, according to a new report.

More than 28 per cent of all male deaths and 20 per cent of female deaths among 35 to 69-year-olds in the city – some 462 deaths over the last two-year recorded period – are caused by smoking, the figures reveal.

The report, published by the South West Public Health Observatory (SWPHO) this week, draws direct links between tobacco-related deaths and areas of deprivation.

The highest number of such deaths occur in eight wards throughout the region, six of them in Plymouth – Honicknowle, St Peter and the Waterfront, St Budeaux, Devonport, Stoke and Southway.

Russ Moody, NHS Plymouth Stop Smoking Service manager, described the figures as 'unsurprising' and said a lot of work is being done to combat the problem.
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He said: "There's a lot of factors that contribute to premature death but probably the most significant one is smoking.

"Plymouth has one of the highest smoking rates in the South West and I think this is reflected in premature death rates.

"We are doing a lot to help the situation and have one of the best stop smoking services nationally. More than 4,000 people come to us a year for help."

He added the service expects to help record figures over the coming year, as factors such as the smoking ban and changes in cigarette packaging encourage more people to quit.

The SWPHO data suggests between 2003 and 2005, 462 died prematurely of smoking-related illnesses in Plymouth. 'Prematurely' is classed as between the ages of 35 and 69.

The city's smoking-related death rate of 44 people per 10,000 people is the highest in the South West and is 'significantly higher' than expected, the report states.

The report also says males account for around two thirds of all smoking-related premature deaths in the region.

Lung cancer and heart disease are estimated to account for half of such deaths in both men and women in the South West.

The report, entitled What a Waste, concludes: "Despite a huge range of policies and measures to reduce the prevalence of tobacco smoking in the South West, the estimates presented in this bulletin suggest tobacco smoking still exerts a significant health burden."

The report states the observatory will undertake a detailed examination of smoking-related mortality rates and deprivation.

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