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Oxfordshire could become the UK’s first smoke free county

Last Thursday Oxfordshire’s Health Improvement Board discussed a plan to reduce the number of smokers in the county. The scheme has been proposed following concerns about the pressure smoking has been putting on the Oxfordshire economy. 

Action on Smoking and Health reports that smoking costs Oxfordshire residents £121.7m every year. This includes spending on healthcare, workplace productivity, social care and house fires. The report also states that 2,132 people died from smoking-related causes in Oxfordshire between 2012 and 2017.

Oxfordshire Tobacco Control Strategy outlines plans to become smoke free by 2025, becoming the first county in the UK to do so.

According to a report to the Health Improvement Board, approximately 10 percent of the county’s population smokes regularly at the moment, equating to roughly 54,804 people.

Ansaf Azhar, Oxfordshire County Council’s director of public health, outlined the deep inequalities associated with who was smoking in Oxfordshire, stating that the poorest communities were hit the hardest by the health issues caused by the habit.

He said the new strategy had a ‘four pillared’ approach to reducing the number of smokers. These pillars will be: carrying on with existing prevention work, regulating and enforcing tobacco products, creating more smoke-free environments, and supporting smokers to quit.

The Health Improvement Board is made up of members from Oxfordshire’s five district councils, the county council, Thames Valley Police, and local health organisations.

Oxfordshire County Council is preparing to launch the Oxfordshire Tobacco Control Alliance Tobacco Control Strategy Consultation on ‘No Smoking Day’ on Wednesday 11th March.

The Council’s press office told Cherwell: “Representatives from the alliance will be attending and we are currently confirming interview availability for the day with key people from organisations such as: Oxford Health, Oxfordshire County Council, OUH [Oxford University Hospitals], and CCG [Clinical Commissioning Group]”.

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