Smoking stats show dentists must educate

Key statistics for No Smoking Day show that smoking has dropped dramatically in 35 years but that 20% of the population still haven’t kicked the habit

In 2010, 20% of the adult population of Great Britain were cigarette smokers compared with 45% in 1974 when the smoking data were first collected.

The General Household Survey (GHS) and General Lifestyle Survey (GLF) have been monitoring smoking prevalence for over 35 years.

And the 2010 survey included questions on cigarette consumption, type of cigarette smoked, how old respondents were when they started smoking, and dependence on cigarettes.

Dentists are being urged to help patients quit smoking as No Smoking Day approaches.

No Smoking Day takes place today (14 March) and more than a million smokers are expected to make a quit attempt.

The campaign – now in its 29th year – has the backing of British Dental Health Foundation chief executive Dr Nigel Carter.

He said: ‘Smoking presents a very real danger to the public’s oral and overall health. Dentists find themselves in a unique position to warn patients of the risks of smoking, which causes tooth staining and exacerbates gum disease – which has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, strokes and premature and low birth-weight babies.

‘Tobacco is also linked to around three-quarters of all cases of mouth cancer. Placed on top of all the health concerns surrounding smoking, these risks stress the importance of campaigns such as No Smoking Day, and the Foundation wholeheartedly supports the campaign.’

Among adult smokers, 64% said they would like to stop smoking altogether and 58% said they would find it difficult to go without smoking for a whole day.

Furthermore, 15% per cent of smokers had their first cigarette within five minutes of waking up.

Over the last 20 years, there has been a substantial increase in the proportion of smokers who smoke mainly hand-rolled tobacco.

In 2010, 39% of men smokers rolled their own compared with 18% in 1990.

Amongst women, in 2010, 23% of smokers said they rolled their own compared with only 2% in 1990.

The difference in smoking prevalence between men and women has decreased considerably since the 1970s.

In 1974, 51% smoked cigarettes compared with 41%, whereas in 2010 there was no significant difference between smoking prevalence among men and among women (21% of men compared with 20% of women).

See the General Lifestyle Survey Overview Report 2010 here for more details.

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