On the 10-year anniversary of smokefree law, health and council leaders are hailing it as one of the most important pieces of legislation to protect health in a generation.
Eighty-six per cent of North East adults support smokefree in 2017 and only five per cent oppose the law, which was introduced on July 1, 2007, to protect people from secondhand smoke in pubs, restaurants, bars, shops, offices and workplaces.
Smoking rates in the North East began to fall dramatically from 2005 as a major campaign for a Smoke Free North East began and continued action to tackle smoking has resulted in the largest drop in smoking in England between 2005 and 2017.
Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, said: “Smokefree law was something that was not only badly needed, but also wanted by the majority of people.
“It continues to be one of the most popular laws in recent history, as well as one of the most important for people’s health.
“The law was always about reducing high levels of exposure to smoke in workplaces and enclosed public spaces, but it also raised awareness of the harm of smoking and made a lot of people think about tobacco smoke in a completely different way.
“Smoking rates have nearly halved in just over a decade and I firmly believe we can look forward realistically to getting smoking down to five per cent of adults or fewer within the next decade.
“It will take action at national level – we are now calling for a licencing scheme to help tackle sales of illegal tobacco and sales to children.
“We also need to treat tobacco dependency as a fundamental part of every patient’s treatment within our NHS.”
For the anniversary, Fresh has launched a campaign – Secondhand Smoke is Poison – aimed at encouraging people who still smoke around children in the home to take it outside, or to quit, as figures suggest more than one in 10 North East youngsters are still exposed.