Today (Sunday 2nd April) marks 10 years since the ground-breaking legislation banning smoking in enclosed public places came into force across Wales.
The hotly debated ban has helped to drastically bring down smoking rates among adults and teenagers alike and saved thousands from the harms of a product which kills 1 in 2 of its long-term users.
In 2007, 24% of adults in Wales smoked now levels stand at 19% – over 94,000 less smokers. The stats are even greater when it comes to teens, with smoking rates reduced by 6% for boys and 14% for girls respectively.
A major cultural shift has taken place over the past decade. A vast decrease in the numbers of those who smoke in the home, from 80% to 46% since the ban’s implementation, suggests a better awareness of the dangers of second-hand smoke, especially around children and families.
Chief executive of tobacco control campaign charity ASH Wales, Suzanne Cass, said:
“The smoking ban has resulted in the most positive improvement in the nation’s health in decades. The significance of this legislation should not be underestimated. Thousands more children now live in a smokefree home, and hundreds of thousands of people are no longer subjected to the deadly effects of passive smoking.”
There is clear evidence smokers no longer feel as comfortable smoking around others – the number of people smoking in their own home has almost halved since the ban came into place. It is fantastic to see the message about the dangers of smoking, especially around children, is being heard.”
The hidden threat from second-hand smoke, especially for workers in the leisure industry such as pubs and clubs, was cited as one of the major reasons for bringing in the indoor smoking ban. The World Health Organisation says more than 80% of cigarette smoke is invisible and odourless, and there is no safe level of second-hand smoke exposure.
There continues to be strong support for the smoking ban in Wales, with 81% of people in support of the smokefree legislation. Notably three quarters of smokers are in favour of the ban.
Despite the huge steps forward, ASH Wales believes there are still more changes to be had. Suzanne continued;
“Smoking rates have dropped for most of the population except among the unemployed where they’ve in fact increased from 41% to 43%. This shows the stop smoking message still isn’t engaging these ‘hard-to-reach’ people and the health inequalities gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ in Wales in increasing.”
Substantial laws and voluntary bans have come into force in Wales over the past decade since the implementation of the smokefree legislation…
On the 10th anniversary of Wales’ flagship smoking ban the Public Health Minister, Rebecca Evans, has heralded it as a great public health success.
The percentage of adults smoking is now at a record low. The Welsh Health Survey 2015 showed that 19% of adults smoke, a significant decrease from 25% in 2005/6. This has exceeded the Welsh Government target of reducing smoking rates to 20% by 2016.
The Minister marked the occasion by visiting Malpas Court Primary School in Newport.
The school has recently achieved the National Quality Award as part of the Welsh Network of Healthy School Schemes (WNHSS) and is the 130th School in Wales to do so. Tobacco use is one of the topics covered under the scheme. Pupils talked to the Minister about smoking and shared their thoughts on what a smokefree Wales means to them.
To help continue this success, the Minister has today announced funding of £417,000 over three years to ASH Wales, the leading third sector organisation working for a smokefree Wales.
The funding will contribute to the delivery of the Welsh Government’s Tobacco Control Action Plan, which aims to reduce the prevalence of adult smoking to 16% by 2020.
Chief Executive of the tobacco control campaign group ASH Wales Cymru, Suzanne Cass, said:
“The smoking ban is one of the most important steps forward our nation has taken to protect our health. Since the ban was implemented in 2007, we have seen an incredible change in attitudes towards smoking which has resulted in 5% less people and 94,000 fewer adults still smoking.“Thanks to this incredible funding from Welsh Government, we can continue to work together to support the remaining 19% of those still addicted to tobacco to choose smokefree and lead a healthier, happier life for themselves and their families.”
“The ban on smoking in indoor public places has been a huge success. The percentage of adults smoking is now at a record low. This will improve people’s health and life expectancy, and will reduce pressures on the NHS.
“It also means that future generations are protected from the effects of smoking, and do not grow up seeing it as a normal activity.“We are continuing our efforts to support smokers to quit by signposting them to free NHS cessation services. If passed, the Public Health Bill will ban smoking in playgrounds, schools and hospital grounds, to continue the remarkable culture-change we have seen around smoking in Wales in recent years. I want everyone in Wales to ‘Choose Smokefree’.”