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  News - Bedfordshire Heartlands Primary Care Trust, Ampthill Bedfordshire UK

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Bedfordshire Heartlands Primary Care Trust
Alcohol misuse and smoking prevalence are still major causes for concern
Date : - 21/02/2011
Alcohol consumption, alcohol related deaths and smoking prevalence in the east of England are amongst the lowest in the country, but there is still much more we can do to prevent unnecessary ill health and death from alcohol misuse and smoking.

According to the Office of National Statistics annual report on alcohol related deaths and General Lifestyle Survey, alcohol related deaths in the east of England are the lowest in England and alcohol consumption in the region is amongst the lowest in the country. Smoking prevalence in the region is also amongst the lowest in England, but as two of the biggest causes of preventable death in the country today, there is still much more to be done to address these issues and enable people to live longer and healthier lives.

Dr Linda Sheridan, Deputy Regional Director, Health Protection, said: “Alcohol misuse and smoking are two of the biggest causes of preventable ill health and death in the east of England. NHS East of England is working with GPs, Primary Care Trusts, hospitals, local authorities and other organisations to prevent future alcohol and smoking related harm and to help improve the lives of thousands of people across the region.

“Despite rates for alcohol consumption and alcohol related deaths decreasing slightly in the region, excessive alcohol consumption remains a major cause for concern. There were 540 unnecessary deaths in the east of England in 2009 due to alcohol, nearly twice the number of those killed in road traffic accidents (235 in 2009).

“NHS in the east of England is providing identification and advice to people drinking at high risk levels and ensuring treatment services are available to people dependent on alcohol. Alcohol related admissions to hospitals continue to rise and we are working to reduce this by providing alcohol health workers in hospitals to support patients whilst they are in hospital and after they have been discharged.

“Tobacco will kill 50% of those who smoke. The majority of people who smoke wish to give up and we remain resolutely committed to tackling smoking and helping people to quit. NHS East of England is working with GPs, Primary Care Trusts, local authorities and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs to reduce the burden of smoking and provide support to people to quit. We are also working to reduce the uptake of smoking by young people so we do not have a new generation of smokers.”

The reports published this week found that over the past ten years the number of alcohol related deaths in males in the east of England has risen steadily from 8.9 per 100,000 of population in 2000 to a peak of 12.5 in 2008. However, it fell in 2009 to 11.4 per 100,000 - lower than the national rate for men of 15.8. Altogether 360 men died from alcohol related causes in the east of England in 2009, a decrease of 29 compared to 2008.

For women the rate of alcohol deaths has gradually fallen over the past 10 years, but levelled out more recently. In 2000 5.6 women per 100,000 of population died of alcohol related causes compared to 5.2 in 2009 - lower than the national rate of 7.7 in 2009. This equates to 180 female deaths due to alcohol related causes in 2009, the same as in 2008.

The lifestyle survey found people in the east of England drink less alcohol than the national average. Men in the region drink an average of 15.8 units a week compared to 16.4 units nationally, and women in the region drink an average of 7.8 units, compared to 8 units nationally.
The survey also showed that smoking prevalence in the region is lower than other parts of the country with 19% of people over 16 smoking in the region in 2009 compared to a national average of 21% - down from 10 years ago when 25 % of the regional population smoked.

Although prevalence is falling very slowly, smoking remains the single greatest cause of preventable death and is one of the main causes of health inequality in the UK. It costs the NHS about £2.7 million a year and with around one in five people in the east of England still smoking, helping people to give-up still remains a priority.

The current recommendations for daily alcohol intake are that it should not regularly exceed three to four units for men and two to three units for women. Advice and support to help address alcohol misuse or dependency is available at:

You can also speak to your GP or visit your local Primary Care Trust website to find out about the range of services and support that are available in your local area.

Smokers are four times more likely to quit successfully if they use their free local NHS stop smoking service than if they go it alone. More information is available at or by calling the Bedfordshire Smoking Service on 0800 013 0553.

Smokers can also access help to quit through their local GP or pharmacy. The Department of Health has launched a Quit Kit which is available at many local pharmacies in the region until March 2011. To find stores taking part in the scheme visit

Reference : -
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