No Smoking Day: Sheffield leaders highlight dangers of criminal cigarette trade
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Greg Fell, director for public health, and councillor Alison Teal, executive member for wellbeing, came together with Smokefree Sheffield as well as colleagues in trading standards and health improvement to highlight the dangers of smoking – in particular unlawful tobacco.
At the all-day event, Robert Smith, a dog search handler and trainer, and Molly, a detection dog, gave a demonstration on how they sniff out criminals.
Mr Smith said Molly had found hundreds of thousands of illicit cigarettes using her super sense of smell during her four year career so far.
Speaking on the harm caused by the trade, Mr Fell said illegal tobacco is unregulated so it could be a lot more dangerous than those sold in shops and the cheap prices make them easier for children and people suffering with addicition to buy.
How prevalent is smoking in Sheffield?
Mr Fell said 10.4 percent of Sheffield’s adult population were known smokers, which equates to around 60,000 people. This has nearly halved in the past 10 years and it is lower than the national average.
He said: “That is bad because it’s 10.4 percent too many but comparatively it’s pretty good, actually.
“That prevalence has been coming down relatively quickly over recent years so whatever we are doing we are doing the right thing.
“Our aim is to push the rate down faster and faster, as fast as we can possibly go. I don’t know where we stop. If I get to five percent I might be happy but it might take me another few years to get to five.”
Smoking is more common in deprived areas such as in the east and west of the city, he said.
“People have harder lives, it’s more easily available with cheap and illicit tobacco, we know that from the data we have got.
“Like all other health issues, those that change their behaviour first are the well off, those with arguably more comfortable life circumstances – they are always the first group of people who change their behaviour so you get to the stage where those who are left have got really difficult life circumstances. They have got a lot going on in their lives and smoking might be the last thing they want to tackle because it’s hard to stop, it’s all of that together.”
Support to stop smoking
Mr Fell said the council has run a stop smoking service for two decades which has helped tens of thousands of people stop smoking through advice and a package of psychological support.
He said “It is by far the most effective way to get people to stop. That said, it is a hard addiction to break and it takes many people three, four or five goes. It is really important that people don’t give up. If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying.”
More advice and support can be found on Smokefree Sheffield’s website here: https://smokefreesheffield.org/