THE number of smokers in West Berkshire has fallen to its lowest recorded rate.
The district is also performing well when compared with national smoking figures.
In West Berkshire, there has been a four-per-cent drop in the rate of smoking since 2012, with the latest statistics showing that 14.1 per cent of residents smoke.
This is significantly better than the average of 16.9 per cent across England.
West Berkshire Council invests in a smoking cessation service to help people quit and lead healthier lifestyles.
Estimates suggest that, between 2012 and 2014, around 230 people in every 100,000 living in the West Berkshire died owing to a smoking-related condition.
The national average for the same period is 288 people in every 100,000.
This year, the council has spent £279,000 on a service to help people quit smoking.
The Smokefreelife service is delivered by Solutions 4 Health.
The service, providing consultation and support for smokers, is delivered in communities, hospitals and primary care settings.
West Berkshire Council also supports No Smoking Day – a day to raise awareness of the support available to help smokers quit and to highlight the dangers of smoking.
West Berkshire Council’s executive member for public health and wellbeing, Graham Jones, said: “The number of people who smoke in the district is comparatively low, but we still have around 16,000 adults and 800 young people who smoke.
“We invest in a stop smoking service and also we work hard with schools and in our communities to highlight the dangers of smoking and prevent people from taking it up in the first place.
“Smoking can affect someone’s quality of life at every stage; from its impact on unborn children in mothers that smoke, right through to affecting the length and quality of a smoker’s retirement.
“I would really encourage those people who smoke to take the first important step today and get in touch with our stop smoking service.”
To help highlight the dangers of smoking to schoolchildren, the West Berkshire and Wokingham Trading Standards team has joined up with public health colleagues to commission a puppet show called Meet the Stinkers.
The Muppets-style play tells pupils how tobacco can harm health and gives advice on building resilience to the peer pressure element of youth smoking.
Last year it was seen by 330 children and this year it has already been performed to 580 pupils at 13 schools.
n For help quitting smoking visit https://www.smokefreelifeberkshire.com/ or call 0800 622 6360.
Smokefreelife Berkshire is running a stop smoking-healthy hearts event this Saturday in Northbrook Street, Newbury, between 10am and 4pm.