Records show fall in number of smokers in West Lothian and Falkirk council areas
Cigarettes are becoming an increasingly rare sight in Falkirk and West Lothian, as smoking rates hit a seven-year low, figures show.
Campaign group Action on Smoking and Health Scotland has welcomed the drop but says millions of people across the UK are still blighted by the biggest preventable cause of early death.
The Office for National Statistic (ONS)s data shows that 16.9 per cent of people aged 18 and over in the Falkirk Council area were smokers last year. It was the lowest smoking rate for seven years – in 2012, it was 24 per cent.
Of the non-smokers in Falkirk, 24.3 per cent had kicked the habit and 58.9 per cent had never lit up. Falkirk reflects the trend across Scotland, where the smoking rate also hit a seven-year low, at 16.3 per cent.
While, the data shows that 18.3 per cent of people aged 18 and over in West Lothian were smokers last year. The rate has fallen since 2012, the first year local data was collected, when it stood at 20.9 per cent.
ASH Scotland chief executive Sheila Duffy said the national drop was encouraging, but that there is no room for complacency.
She added: “The latest ONS figures show that in Scotland alone, over a quarter of a million fewer people are smoking than just seven years ago.
“But with millions of people across the UK still blighted by the biggest preventable cause of ill health and early death, there is so much still to do.
“This is not a job done, it is very much a work in progress.”
The smoking rate in Scotland was higher than that in England (14.4 per cent), and across Wales (15.9 per cent).
A Scottish Government spokesperson said that reducing the use of tobacco is a public health priority, adding: “We have invested around £10 million annually over the last five years in stop-smoking services, and since 2010 Scotland has seen the largest decline in the proportion of smokers across the UK.
“We are also helping a larger proportion of people in our more deprived areas to stop smoking than anywhere else in the UK.
“This focused approach is reducing health inequalities and Cancer Research UK has recommended that the rest of the UK adopts our approach.”