The 10 year anniversary of the Smokefree legislation introduced on 1 July 2007, which banned smoking inside bars, clubs, restaurants, and other public and work places, has been marked with a dramatic steep decline in smoking rates across the West Midlands region. The last few years have seen the steepest drop in numbers, down from 23% in 2007 in the region (21% in England) to 15.4% in 2016 (15.5% in England).
Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England, praised this phenomenal success and the huge benefits the legislations has brought – encouraging large numbers of smokers to quit and helping improve health among both ex-smokers and non-smokers alike.
Duncan Selbie said: “The Smokefree legislation has been extraordinary in the way we now experience and enjoy pubs, clubs, restaurants and so many other public places. Young people have not had to experience the smoke filled bars and clubs that once choked their parents and workers. They’ve grown up in a world where smoking is no longer socially acceptable.
“The law has played a key part in the huge cultural change we have seen in the past decade, especially among younger people, a change that has literally saved thousands from disabling chronic diseases and premature death.”
New figures from PHE show that the number of smokers aged 35 and over dying from heart disease in the West Midlands has fallen significantly from 39.5 per 100,000 head population in 2007-09 to 29.5 in 2013-15; while deaths from stroke have fallen from 12.7 per 100,000 head population in 2007-09 to 9.5 in 2013-15.
Commenting on the impact on societal attitudes over the past decade the Smokefree legislation has led to, Duncan Selbie said: “The Smokefree legacy has had a phenomenally positive impact on societal attitudes to smoking, and smokers have seized the opportunity by quitting in unprecedented numbers and, of those still smoking, half have chosen to smoke outside of their own homes to protect their families from second hand smoke. The Smokefree legislation was undoubtedly the single most important public health reform in generations.”
The smoking indoor ban was the first, and the most important, in a series of 10 pieces of tobacco legislation over 10 years.
Duncan Selbie said: “We’ve seen cigarettes stubbed out in public places, become far less visible in shops and had large graphic warnings put on packs starkly explaining what these things do to the human body.