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Kent could struggle to meet government targets on getting smokers to quit

By Caitlin Webb, local democracy reporter

Around 58,500 smokers in Kent need to quit the habit by 2022 to meet Government targets, according to a council report.

The ambitious target for a "smoke-free generation" was set last year, with a plan to reduce the prevalence to only 12% of the population.

If these targets are met, it is predicted there could be 620 fewer cases of lung cancer and 832 fewer incidents of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease by 2032.

Nearly 60,000 smokers in Kent need to quit by 2020 to meet government targets
Nearly 60,000 smokers in Kent need to quit by 2020 to meet government targets

Quitting could also lift more than 460,000 smokers in England out of poverty as they would save an average £2,000 every year.

Despite this, there has been a decline in the amount of people signing up for free smoking cessation support, which is seen as the most cost-effective solution.

Kent County Council is planning to change its tactics by targeting people before they start smoking, focussing on routine and manual workers as around 32.4% of them smoke.

The local authority also plans to promote smoke-free areas such as outside school gates, prisons and healthcare centres.

While the general take up of tobacco is in steady decline, the same cannot be said for smoking in pregnancy as 13.8% of pregnant women in Kent smoke.

There needs to be around 350 fewer women lighting up during pregnancy per year for Kent to meet its 6% prevalence target by 2022.

Councillors on the health reform and public health cabinet committee are due to discuss these plans next Tuesday.

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