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Folkestone and Hythe, Ashford and Sittingbourne and Sheppey have the highest number of smokers in Britain

By Rebecca Tuffin

Three areas of Kent have the highest number of smokers in Britain.

Smoking prevalence rates of each parliamentary constituency have been revealed for the first time today, based on the latest Office of National Statistics data.

Folkestone and Hythe, Ashford, and Sittingbourne and Sheppey are in the top 10.

Three areas of Kent are among the worst for smoking in Britain.
Three areas of Kent are among the worst for smoking in Britain.

The number of smokers in Britain has halved in the past 20 years with many switching to vaping, e-cigarettes or quitting altogether. But around seven million people continue to smoke.

Folkestone and Hythe has the sixth highest prevalence out of 632 constituencies in England, Scotland and Wales, with almost a quarter of residents smoking - 22.2%.

This is closely followed by Ashford in seventh place with 21.6%.

Folkestone and Hythe has the sixth highest prevalence out of 632 constituencies
Folkestone and Hythe has the sixth highest prevalence out of 632 constituencies

Ninth is Sittingbourne and Sheppey with 21.3%.

Sevenoaks has the lowest proportion of smokers in Kent, with just 8.3% of people lighting up.

All Kent and Medway smoking prevalence rates are as follows:

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John Sharvill, a GP in practices across Deal and Sandwich, believes awareness and social pressure are two key factors which cause high levels of smoking.

He said: "Smoking has lots of causes but tends to be more common in more deprived areas and within groups where the habit is the social norm.

"These people need to be made aware of the negative effects and also, how much money they would save if they stopped smoking.

The number of smokers in Britain has halved in the past 20 years
The number of smokers in Britain has halved in the past 20 years

"The NHS provides free advice to everyone, with 12 to 13% of those taking it up quitting for good. But people need to know how to access this help and also, if they want to stop.

"You can get help via a community pharmacy or by using the One You Kent website.

"It's quite frightening that people are unaware of how some of the effects are actually irreversible. If you get early bronchitis or emphysema, you can't go back.

"If you don't stop first time, it's well worth trying again - sometimes it can take two or three attempts to quit."

If you want to quit smoking, find your local support group here.

To keep up-to-date with all the latest developments with your local hospitals and other health stories, click here

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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