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Smoking-related hospital admissions in England up by nearly 5% last year

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One in six of all hospital admissions for respiratory diseases in 2022-23 were estimated to be related to smoking

There were an estimated 408,700 hospital admissions due to smoking in 2022-23, an increase of 4.8 per cent from 389,800 in 2021-22, latest statistics published by NHS England have shown.

In 2020-21, there were 314,100 admissions attributed to smoking, which was consistent with fewer hospital admissions overall that year, according to the health service’s Statistics on Public Health, 2023 report.

However, smoking-related admissions in each of the past three years remained lower than in 2019-20, prior to the Covid pandemic, when there were 446,400 cases.

Smoking accounted for around one in six (16 per cent) of all hospital admissions for respiratory diseases last year, eight per cent of all admissions for cancers and seven percent of admissions for cardiovascular diseases.

Commenting on the report, Public Health Minister Andrea Leadsom said: “No other consumer product kills up to two-thirds of its users, which is why we have set out plans to stop children who turn 14 this year and younger from ever legally being sold cigarettes – the most significant public health intervention in a generation.

“We are doubling funding for stop smoking services, helping 360,000 people quit, and providing local authorities with one million free vapes via our world-first ‘Swap to Stop’ programme.”

The UK government has set out plans to create a smoke-free generation by 2030, with a focus on stopping people from starting to smoke, backed by the NHS.

While England has seen great progress in prevention and tackling smoking-related ill health in recent years, there is still more to do to help save and improve more lives, said Matt Fagg, NHS England’s Director for Prevention and Long-Term Conditions.

“Quitting smoking is the best way to improve health and to prevent over 50 serious smoking-related illnesses from developing, but we know it can be very difficult to overcome an addiction. That is why the NHS is rolling out dedicated support for patients in hospital to tackle their tobacco dependency, in addition to traditional Stop Smoking Services.

“Being in hospital is a significant event in someone’s life and people can be more open to making healthier choices. The tobacco dependence treatment offered by the NHS can significantly improve the health and wellbeing of the person smoking and their family,” he added.

Pregnant women who smoke are at greater risk of experiencing stillbirth and pre-term birth rates. The Saving Babies’ Lives Care Bundle is a clinical guide provided by NHS for maternity service providers to support for pregnant women to stop smoking, and reduce these risks.

Additionally, the health service has rolled out its biggest ever programme to improve early diagnosis of lung cancer, which is mostly caused by smoking (72 per cent of cases).

More than a million current or former smokers have been invited for lung cancer checks in community locations through the Targeted Lung Cancer Health Check initiative, which has also helped identified thousands of people with other undiagnosed respiratory conditions.

Earlier this week, a study published in the journal BMC Medicine also suggested a decade-long decline in smoking prevalence in England has stalled since the start of the pandemic.

The study, led by UCL researchers and funded by Cancer Research UK, looked at survey responses from 101,960 adults and found the rate of decline has slowed to 0.3 per cent.

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