South Hams has seen the biggest drop in the number of smokers in the whole of the UK, according to a new survey.
The Go Smoke Free study revealed the areas with the biggest increase and decrease in smokers in the country. It found that South Hams reported the largest decrease in smokers, down by a whopping 70.52 per cent since 2018 – a decrease of about 10,366 people.
According to estimates, 5.1 per cent of the entire population of South Hams are currently smokers, representing about 4,550 people out of a total population of 89,213.
The study, which analysed Office for National Statistics (ONS) data between 2018 and 2021, was commissioned to coincide with the start of the ‘Stopober’ national quit smoking campaign last month.
The initiative encouraged smokers to abstain from their habit for 28 days during October.
West Oxfordshire, which came second, saw just over a 65 per cent drop during the same period, representing a decrease of 7,488 smokers. South Kesteven in Lincolnshire took the third spot on the list, with a 58.2 per cent drop in the number of smokers.
By contrast, Wychavon in Worcestershire saw the largest overall increase, with figures showing that between 2018 and 2021, there was a rise of about 12,238 smokers.
A spokesperson for Go Smoke Free said: “Although there has been a 6.19 per cent decline in smokers between 2018 and 2021 across the UK, there are still several areas that are reporting an uptake in people identifying as smokers.
“These regional differences in smoking prevalence underscore the importance of continued research and awareness campaigns to address these differences effectively.”
According to figures from the World Health Organization (WHO), tobacco kills more than eight million people each year, including an estimated 1.3 million non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke. Tobacco also kills up to half of its users who don’t quit.
It is the second time in recent months that South Hams has taken the top spot in a survey.
The district was recently hailed as the healthiest area in the UK, according to a study in the health and wellness site, bluehorizonbloodtests.co.uk.
The study, which was carried out using ONS data, looked at different factors to give areas a score out of 100, rating the 20 healthiest and 20 least healthy in the country.
South Hams scored 80 out of 100, thanks to low rates of alcohol and tobacco use, a low percentage of people with high blood pressure and alcohol-related hospitalisations, underscoring the latest survey findings.
In August, the South Hams town of Dartmouth also came third in a Which? Survey of the best 100 destinations for eating out, thanks to its cream teas and famous Devon pasty and ploughman’s lunch.