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In Gateshead in 2017, the prevalence of smoking in adults was 16.5% [Chart - Smoking prevalence]. This is statistically similar to the England average of 14.9%.[1] Indicatively (because of large confidence intervals), the overall direction of travel is down.

Smoking prevalence

Smoking prevalence in Gateshead remains high for routine and manual occupation socio-economic groups at 24.5% and compares with the England average of 25.7%. Both show a declining trend overall [Chart - Smoking prevalence in routine and manual occupations].[2]

41.7% of adults with a serious mental illness in Gateshead are smokers which is similar to the national average [Chart - Smoking prevalence in adults with serious mental illness (SMI)].[3]

surveysA local survey conducted in 2016 (Adult Health and Lifestyle Survey) found that young people are more likely to smoke than older people aged 65+ by 9 percentage points. The survey also found that people who live in the most deprived areas are more likely to smoke, with a gap of 11 percentage points between the most and least deprived areas.[4] This is in line with recent national data which also shows a significant variation in smoking between deprivation bands.

Our previous local 'lifestyle survey' from 2012 had shown that there were significant variations in smoking rates across wards in Gateshead. For example, wards with lower levels of deprivation - Whickham South & Sunniside and Ryton, Crookhill & Stella both had the lowest prevalence at 10.4%, compared with High Fell (34.8%), Dunston and Teams (32.0%) and Felling (28.4%) - wards with higher levels of deprivation.[5]

Smoking during pregnancy

pregnancyAt delivery, 14.5% of all women giving birth were known to smoke. This is significantly higher than the England average of 10.7%, and a slight increase on the previous year when the rate was 13.3% [Chart - Smoking in pregnancy].[6]

One of the complications associated with smoking during pregnancy is the potential for having a baby with a low birth weight (below 2,500g). A low birth weight increases the risk of childhood mortality and of developmental problems for the child and is associated with poorer health in later life. In Gateshead, 2.6% of babies (live births) had a low birth weight in 2016, compared with 2.8% for England as a whole [Chart - Low birth weight babies (live births)].[7] The wards with the highest proportion of low birth weight babies (live and still births) are Bridges, Deckham, and Dunston & Teams. [Map - Ward low birth weight babies (live and still births)].[8]

Smoking is a major risk factor associated with both infant mortality and stillbirth. Gateshead reflects the national downward trend for both neonatal deaths (within 28 days of birth) [Chart - Neonatal mortality] and stillbirth [Chart - Stillbirth].[9]

Children and young people

In 2012, 74% of secondary school pupils aged 12-15 years reported that they had never smoked. This proportion has increased considerably from 42% in 2004, 54% in 2008, and 61% in 2010. However, smoking appears to be more common among children in Gateshead than in England overall, particularly among girls aged 14-15 years with 21% reporting that they smoke occasionally or regularly (compared to 8% of boys).[10]

teenagerIn the 2014/15 'What About YOUth' (WAY) survey, 9.8% of 15 year olds in Gateshead reported smoking regularly, with a further 2.6% smoking occasionally. The combined figure of 12.4% is the highest rate in the North East and is significantly higher than the England average of 8.2% [Chart - Current smokers aged 15]. Gateshead's rate is also significantly higher than six of the fifteen local authorities in Gateshead's CIPFA nearest neighbour group [Chart - Current smokers aged 15 (CIPFA nearest neighbours)].[11]

The 2014/15 'What About YOUth' (WAY) survey also reported that one in five (19.9%) 15 year olds in Gateshead have tried e-cigarettes, which is similar to the England average of 18.4% [Chart - 15 year olds who have tried e-cigarettes]. Gateshead's rate is significantly lower than six of the fifteen local authorities in its CIPFA nearest neighbour group [Chart - Current e-cigarette smokers age 15 (CIPFA nearest neighbours)].[12]


smokingThere was a decrease in the number of people engaging with NHS Stop Smoking services between 2013/14 and 2015/16 which is in line with the national trend and anecdotally reflects the increased use of over the counter nicotine replacement products e.g. e-cigarettes. Local survey data found that 50% of Gateshead smokers are thinking about or actively trying to stop smoking. This is particularly evident in young people aged under 35 at 64% compared with 9% of those aged 65+. The survey also found that 53% of e-cigarette users are doing so to help them stop smoking cigarettes completely and 24% to reduce the amount they smoke. 36% said they used e-cigarettes to reduce harm to themselves from smoking and 20% to avoid harming others around them. 30% said they just wanted to give e-cigarettes a try and 25% wanted to save money compared with smoking.[4]

However, Gateshead remains above the national average in terms of quit dates set with 6,407 per 100,000 compared with the national average of 4,434 [Chart - Smokers setting a quit date].[12] A 2015 report by Public Health England on Electronic Cigarettes shows that 1 in 20 adults in England use e-cigarettes. The report found that current e-cigarette users are almost exclusively smokers (~60%) or ex-smokers (~40%). Current e-cigarette use among never smokers is very low, estimated to be 0.2%.

Similar to the trend for smokers setting a quit date, the number of successful quitters at 4 weeks (validated by a Carbon Monoxide (CO) reading) has fallen, although Gateshead remains higher than the national average at 2,623 per 100,000 compared with 1,627 in England as a whole [Chart - Successful quitters (CO validated) at 4 weeks].[12]

Illness and death

In 2014-16, Gateshead's directly age standardised mortality rate for deaths attributable to smoking in 35+ year olds was 375.6 per 100,000 population which is statistically significantly higher than the England rate of 272.0 per 100,000 [Chart - Smoking attributable mortality]. This means that Gateshead's rate is 38% higher than the England average.[13]

There are four key illnesses and conditions that lead to smoking related deaths; lung cancer, chronic obstuctive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease and stroke.

lungs2The biggest killer is lung cancer, which in 2014-16 killed 533 Gateshead people. Generally the trend in the death rate has been flat over the last 15 years, however, the current data indicates there may be the start of a downward trend as the rate per 100,000 (DSR) has reduced from 101.5 in 2012-14 to 90.6 in 2013-15 and 91.1 in 2014-16 [Chart - Deaths from lung cancer].[14]

See also: Deaths from COPD

Between 2014 and 2016 there were 132 smoking attributable deaths from heart disease. The general trend is downwards, although it has been quite static in recent years. [Chart - Smoking attributable deaths from heart disease].[15]

The Gateshead rate of smoking attributable deaths from stroke remains above the England average. Gateshead has been significantly worse than the England average for several year now and had a rate of 12.5 deaths compared with 8.8 per 100,000 (DSR) in England [Chart - Smoking attributable deaths from stroke].[16]

Gateshead's smoking attributable hospital admissions rate of 2,746 per 100,000 was significantly higher than the national rate of 1,685 per 100,000 [Chart - Smoking attributable hospital admissions].[17]

See also: Icon for pdf 'Health and Lifestyle Survey 2016' [665.13KB]Icon for pdf 'Lifestyle Behaviours Survey 2012' [3.7MB] ; 'Local Tobacco Control Profiles' ; Icon for pdf 'Tobacco: A Smoking Gun - Gateshead DPH Annual Report 2015/16' [1.94MB]

[1] Adult smoking prevalence, Annual Population Survey, ONS, 2017 (PHOF website)

[2] Smoking prevalence in routine and manual occupations, Annual Population Survey, ONS, 2017 (PHOF website)

[3] Smoking prevalence in adults with SMI, NHS Digital GP Extraction Service (GPES), 2014/15 (Local Tobacco Control Profiles website)

[4] Health and Lifestyle Survey, Gateshead Council, 2016

[5] Lifestyle Behaviours Survey, NHS SoTW, 2012

[6] Smoking Status At Time Of Delivery, NHS Digital, 2016/17 (PHOF website)

[7] ONS Births, 2016 (Local Tobacco Control Profiles website)

[8] ONS Births, 2011-15 (Local Health website)

[9] Neonatal mortality and Stillbirth, ONS, 2013-15 (Local Tobacco Control Profiles website)

[10] Gateshead Schools Health Related Behaviour Questionnaire, 2012

[11] What About YOUth? Survey, HSCIC, 2014/15 (Young People website)

[12] Smokers setting a quit date and successful 4 week quitters (CO validated), NHS Digital Stop Smoking Services Data, 2016/17 (Local Tobacco Control Profiles website)

[13] Smoking attributable mortality, PHE HES, 2014-16 (Local Tobacco Control Profiles website)

[14] Deaths from lung cancer, PHE 2014-16 (Local Tobacco Control Profiles website)

[15] Deaths from smoking attributable heart disease, ONS Integrated Household Survey, relative risks and MYE 2014-16 (Local Tobacco Control Profiles website)

[16] Smoking attributable deaths from stroke, ONS Integrated Household Survey, relative risks and MYE 2014-16 (Local Tobacco Control Profiles website)

[17] Smoking attributable hospital admissions, PHE HES, 2016/17 (Local Tobacco Control Profiles website)

Last modified on 19th September 2018

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