Panel vow - “Together we will make smoking history in Oldham”

Date published: 01 October 2021


A number of top health experts have committed to the new Oldham Tobacco Alliance, and made a pledge to make the borough Smoke Free by 2030.

On Wednesday (September 29) a panel event was held at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in Oldham - the event was based around one question - how can we make smoking history?

Organised by Oldham Council, Oldham Cares and Your Health Oldham and hosted by the BBC’s Kevin Fitzpatrick, audience members heard from an expert panel about what challenges we face in ending smoking and how much progress has been made so far.

The panel (pictured below) was made up of:

Kevin Fitzpatrick (host) who has worked as a reporter, newsreader and producer for the BBC for 15 years.

He’s reported for Radio 5 Live and Radio 4 and currently works for BBC North West Tonight and the Sunday Politics programme.

Professor Peter Hajek, Professor Peter Hajek is Professor of Clinical Psychology and Director of the Health and Lifestyle Research Unit at the Wolfsen Institute of Preventative Medicine.

Dr Alex Bobak a GP in Wandsworth, South London. He started running Specialist Stop Smoking Clinics in 2001 and became the first GPSI in smoking cessation in the UK.

Louise Ross who managed the Leicester City Stop Smoking Service, the first e-cigarette friendly service in the world. She is also a trustee of the New Tobacco Alliance.

Elizabeth Woodworth, Head of Smoking Cessation Services for ABL Health.

Director of Public Health in Oldham, Katrina Stephens, said: “It was great to see so many passionate people coming together to contribute their thoughts and suggestions on how we can make smoking history in Oldham.

“There’s a long way to go, but we have made some progress to date: smoking prevalence amongst adults has come down from 24.2% in 2012 to 17.9% in 2019.

"We have made all council owned properties, vehicles, parks and open spaces smoke free to protect others from the harms of second-hand smoke, discouraged young people from starting to smoke and offered support for people thinking about stopping smoking.”

One of the main issues talked about was the fact that smoking is the biggest preventable cause of health inequalities.

Oldham Council Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care Zahid Chauhan said: “We know that smoking is far more common among routine and manual workers, people with a mental health condition, prisoners, looked-after children and the LGBTQ+ community, and the more disadvantaged someone is, the more likely they are to smoke and suffer from smoking-related disease and premature death.

“We must act now in order to improve health outcomes and tackle the inequality we are seeing.

"I’m proud of what we’ve achieved so far but we still have more to do to make smoking history in Oldham and achieve the ambition of being smoke free by 2030.”

The Oldham Tobacco Alliance will help realise this ambition and coordinate and contribute to tobacco control work in order to:

make smoking less accessible, acceptable and desirable

empower successful quitting

stop young people from starting to smoke in the first place

improve the health and wellbeing of Oldham’s population and reduce the health inequalities experienced by some of our communities due to smoking and tobacco-related harm.

Raz Mohammed, Head of Communities for ABL Health, said: “Quitting is the single most important thing you can do for your health.

"It’s often not easy to quit, but with the right advice and support, any smoker can do it.

"If you want help to quit smoking, there is support available to help you.”

For all the details on how to stop smoking:

Smoking cessation – Specialist stop smoking service from Your Health Oldham for Oldham residents and those registered with an Oldham GP.

Stop smoking guidance – Oldham Council website for further information and resources.


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