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Healthy Wirral sign NHS Smokefree pledge

Health chiefs in Wirral are pushing for NHS sites to be made smokefree as part of a wider bid to boost the health of local residents.

Healthy Wirral, the initiative designed to encourage re-shaping of health services and social care in the borough, formally signed up to the NHS Smokefree Pledge at Birkenhead town hall.

The pledge will help to ensure NHS sites are smokefree and that every frontline healthcare professional discusses smoking with their patients.

The Smokefree NHS pledge means committing to identifying people in Wirral who smoke and offering support to help those who want to quit, as well as creating healthy smokefree environments in NHS buildings and grounds.

Smoking places a massive burden on health and social care services with the overall economic burden of tobacco use to Wirral estimated at £77.7 million a year.

Simon Banks, Chief Officer from NHS Wirral CCG said: "Smoking remains the single greatest risk factor for poor health and early death in Wirral. The NHS Smokefree pledge supports the work being done through the Healthier Lives pledge, which aims to work with local people, to support and enable them to live healthier lives.

"The Wirral Partnership is working collaboratively to reduce the number of people who smoke in Wirral and is committed to taking action to reduce the unacceptable levels of inequality, particularly in relation to poor health across the borough.

"But this is more than just banning smoking from hospital grounds - it's about ensuring we offer support at every opportunity to encourage and help those who want to quit."

The Government's commitment is to achieve a smoke-free future and reduce smoking rates to less than five per cent.

Among the commitments made through signing the pledge are:

Treat tobacco dependency among patients and staff who smoke
Ensure that smokers within the NHS have access to the medication they need to quit
Create environments that support quitting through implementing smokefree policies
Deliver consistent messages to smokers about harms from smoking and the opportunities to quit

Wirral Council Cabinet Member Adult Care & Health, Cllr Chris Jones, said: "One in five people in Wirral still smoke. And people in our most deprived areas are more than twice as likely to smoke than people in the least deprived areas.

"Tobacco use is the major cause of preventable death in Wirral and harms not just smokers but the people around them, through the damaging effects of secondhand smoke.

"Wirral council fully supports efforts to reduce the number of people smoking, make more places smoke-free and support those addicted to tobacco to quit. We aim to make smoking history for our children."