The percentage of people smoking in Liverpool has almost halved since the city launched its pioneering campaign which led to a nationwide ban on smoking in work places.
In 2004, the city council campaigned for a change in the law to enable it to require all enclosed public places and workplaces including public transport, company vehicles, restaurants and bars to be 100 percent smoke-free.
The pioneering move sparked a national debate and led to the Government introducing legislation which began a decade ago this weekend, 1 July 2007.
The latest Adult Lifestyle Survey from 2016 shows that 18.9 percent of people smoke in Liverpool, down from 35 percent in 2005 - a reduction of 46 percent.
It means that the number of adult smokers in the city has reduced from 125,000 to 74,000 – a decrease of 51,000.
Although the percentage of smokers in Liverpool remains above the England average, the city has narrowed the gap from 6.1 percent to 3.4 percent over the last year and has also dropped from second to third for smoking prevalence among populations in the big ‘core’ cities.
Councillor Paul Brant, Cabinet member for health, said: “The proposed ban on smoking in the workplace was a bold and courageous move by Liverpool and, like other city firsts such as Medical Officer Dr Duncan, and public washhouses, it was adopted nationally.
“There is absolutely no doubt that this move has led to people leading longer and healthier lives and also led to less people needing treatment from the NHS and that is something we should rightly celebrate.
“But smoking rates are still far too high in Liverpool and we are absolutely not complacent. That is why we have been continuing to run campaigns encouraging people to quit. Unlike some other areas we are continuing to fund a stop smoking service - SmokeFree Liverpool – to help people quit.
“We still have one of the highest mortality rates for lung cancer in England, and it’s also estimated that there’s around 6,000 people living with undiagnosed lung disease across the city. That is why it is vital we increase awareness about the signs and symptoms of lung diseases and work with our health partners on identifying those at risk and encouraging them to get tested early.
“It’s good to know about some of the symptoms of lung diseases to watch out for yourself and for those closest to you. Catching lung diseases as early as possible means that people are treated earlier, their chances of managing their condition are better and in cases such as lung cancer, their chances of survival increase. Four out of five people diagnosed at the earliest stage of lung cancer will live for at least a year after diagnosis.
“If you’ve had a cough for three weeks or more or you get out of breath doing things you used to be able to do, it could be a sign of lung or heart disease, or even cancer. So don’t ignore it, tell your doctor.”
Over the past 12 months, Liverpool CCG’s Healthy Lung Programme has been inviting those aged between 58 – 70 years, who have ever smoked and who live in areas of the city where lung cancer and COPD rates are highest, to attend a Healthy Lung Clinic at their local GP surgery for a short assessment of their lung health.
In its first year, the Healthy Lung Programme invited a total of 7,150 people to attend a Healthy Lung Clinic, and of those 3,207 people (45%) have either already attended the check up, or booked an appointment to attend a clinic soon.
A recent study into the impact of the Healthy Lung Programme, published by Queen Mary University London and University of Liverpool, showed that attending a Healthy Lung Clinic increases the chances of lung cancer being caught at an early stage, when it’s more easily treatable.
It found 75% of those who have received a lung cancer diagnosis through the Healthy Lung Programme after attending a Healthy Lung Clinic, received an early stage diagnosis, whereas typically in Liverpool, 70% of lung cancer cases are not diagnosed until a late stage, which makes treatment much more difficult.
However, more than half (55%) of those in Liverpool who were invited to attend a Healthy Lung Clinic because they may be at higher risk of developing lung cancer or COPD, have still not done so.
Ed Gaynor, Cancer Lead GP for NHS Liverpool CCG and part of the Healthy Lung Programme team said: “The findings in this study are great news for Liverpool because it means that we are finding and treating more cases of lung cancer and COPD than ever before.
“But at the same time, we also know there are many more people across the city who could be putting their health at risk by not attending a Healthy Lung Clinic when invited.
“If you have received a letter from your GP inviting you to attend a Healthy Lung Clinic, either recently or at any time over the past year, you should book an appointment as soon as possible. Please don’t ignore it or put it off.”
He adds, “Attending a Healthy Lung Clinic is just a routine check-up, and is nothing to feel worried about. During the clinic you will be asked a few questions about your general health and offered lots of useful information about how to keep your lungs healthy, in order to help protect you from developing lung diseases such as COPD or lung cancer in the future.
“You may find that it puts your mind at ease to get checked out, and even if they do find any problems with your lung health during the appointment, it will be far more treatable if caught at an early stage, so attending could also save your life.”
People wanting to quit smoking can get in touch with Smokefree Liverpool in the following ways:
Phone: 0800 061 4212
Text: QUIT to 66777
Social media: Search Smokefree Liverpool on Facebook and @SFree_Liverpool on Twitter