4th June 2021

Oxfordshire set to become the first smoke free county?

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This week Oxfordshire County Council revealed that they plan to become the first smoke-free county and reduce the overall prevalence of smoking among adults in the region to below 5% by 2025.

One of the ways in which they are planning to do so is to ban smoking in outdoor public places, such as outside restaurants.

A date for this proposed ban has not been confirmed yet, but the plans are already creating some interesting conversations.

In a debate on BBC Radio Two’s Jeremy Vine show yesterday [3rd June], journalist Nina Myskow, Rob Lyons and Victoria Derbyshire discussed the plans.

Rob Lyons is the science and technology director at the Academy of Ideas. He said:

“To be affected by smoke, you one need to actively smoke yourself – probably 20 a day over decades and then yes, you have a significantly increased risk of all sorts of things. And no smoker will ever deny that in a million years. But the idea that one waft of smoke across you in a pub beer garden is going to be a serious threat to your health is just ludicrous”.

Smoking is by no means the only cause of lung cancer, but it is the leading cause. Of the 46,000 cases of lung cancer diagnosed each year, 32,000 of these are caused by smoking.

Passive smoking also creates a risk to your health. Those who breathe in second-hand smoke regularly are still at a risk of developing diseases such as heart disease and lung cancer.

Roy Castle believed that his lung cancer was caused by exposure to secondary smoke in jazz clubs he performed in. Up until Roy Castle’s diagnosis, the risk of passive smoking was not recognised or discussed. In recent years, passive smoking has even been proven to affect animals.

Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation was instrumental in the campaigning for the smoking ban. The ban on smoking in all enclosed public spaces came into force in 2007. This ban helped thousands of people quit smoking and has undoubtedly saved many lives.

The best way to reduce your risk of developing lung cancer is to stop smoking. Many people believe that ‘the damage has been done’, but it is never too late to stop smoking. There are so many immediate and long term health benefits; in a recent study published in Nature, it was revealed that quitting smoking can reverse the damage caused by inhaling smoke.

Paula Chadwick is the CEO of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation:

“The link between smoking and lung cancer was recognised over 50 years ago. People who smoke are 15 times more likely to die from lung cancer than those who have never smoked. For over 30 years, we have helped thousands beat the habit with smoking cessation services and our online Quit Support forum.

We fully support all efforts to reduce the risk of developing lung cancer for future generations.”

The county council have outlined all plans for a smoke free region in a comprehensive Tobacco Control Strategy.