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National position

Cheshire West and Chester's smoking picture has been similar or better than the overall situation in England in recent years. During the past two decades the percentage of people who smoke in the national population has fallen by around 0.5-1.0 per cent each year. Thanks in large part to a range of world-leading laws on smoking - most recently plain packaging - tobacco use amongst young people has shown a steeper decline. In Cheshire West and Chester, 5.1 per cent of 15 year olds are currently regular smokers, compared with England at 5.5 per cent. These are encouraging trends but more work is needed.

Smoking rates have always been higher amongst specific groups. Whilst improvements have been seen, the gap is large. In Cheshire West and Chester, as in England, more than one in four people in routine and manual roles smoke - twice the rate seen for employees in managerial and professional roles.

In summer 2017, the government published its new national strategy, Towards a Smokefree Generation: Tobacco Control Plan for England. Our local strategy reflects the key ambitions and targets outlined in this five year national plan. In particular, we recognise the change in direction away from using legal measures towards a focus on evidence-based and intelligence led local action (see our JSNA chapter on smoking).

We also welcome the strong expectation that improvement initiatives should be based on high quality evidence from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the responsible but enabling approach to harm reducing technologies e.g. e-cigarettes, including a firm commitment to ongoing monitoring and research, and a high-profile role for health and social care partners in delivering stop smoking advice and support.

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