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Tobacco and smoking

Smoking is the primary cause of preventable illness and premature death.

Never before has it been more important that smokers try to stop. The World Health Organisation and Public Health England are quoting that smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID 19 for multiple reasons including:

  • smoking or the act of smoking means that fingers are in contact with the lips which increases the risk of transmitting the disease from hand to mouth
  • smokers' lung capacity will already be reduced and therefore will be more at risk of serious illness

Smokefree County Durham Specialist Stop Smoking Service continues to help smokers to quit during this difficult time. To protect clients they are unable to offer face to face support. However, staff are continuing to support clients weekly by telephone. 

Quitting smoking can be difficult. Stop Smoking County Durham will help you find your routes to quit. Get in touch on 0800 772 0565, or see Smoke Free County Durham for further information.

Our ambition is to reduce smoking in County Durham to 5% by 2030 and support the north east reduction to 5% by 2025. Our vision is of a tobacco free generation, and that a child born now in any part of County Durham will reach adulthood breathing smokefree air, being free from tobacco addiction and living in a community where to smoke is unusual.

Tobacco control

Tobacco control looks at the use of tobacco and how to reduce death and disability it causes. Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body and reduces both quality of life as well as life expectancy. Smoking is the single biggest cause of inequality in death rates between rich and poor in the UK. Half of all long-term smokers die prematurely losing on average ten years of life. For every death caused by smoking, about 20 smokers are suffering from a smoking related disease.

For more information on the impact of smoking on health in County Durham see Durham Insight: Living well - tobacco control.

Getting help

Itt's never too late to stop. See YouTube: Fresh Don't Wait - never too late.

If you're a smoker and want help

Smokefree Life, some of whom are ex-smokers themselves, have helped 50,000 people to stop smoking over the last 12 years. With expert help you are four times more likely to succeed than those who try to quit without support. Everyone is different so there are different support options available including:

  • motivational tips on how to stay on track
  • the chance to use a carbon monoxide monitor, to see your recovery in action
  • a choice of support to fit your lifestyle
  • prescription stop smoking medicines to help beat cravings, from nicotine patches and gum, to nasal sprays, inhalators and tablets

Making better choices today can have a big impact on your health. One You can help you to quit smoking.


Vaping (using ecigarettes) is becoming an increasingly popular way to stop smoking. While vaping is not totally risk free, the scientific evidence which is available, indicates that vaping is 95% safer than smoking tobacco. Tobacco exposes a smoker to more than 5,000 chemicals many which are poisonous and cause cancer (RCGP Position Statement, 2017). Nicotine is a highly addictive substance, it is not this, but the other harmful chemicals in tobacco, which kills people. There is no good evidence of risk from 'second-hand' vaping, unlike tobacco. For more information see Evidence review of ecigarettes and heated tobacco products 2018.

Smoking during pregnancy

Smoking in pregnancy is the most common risk factor attributed to poor health in infants.

Smoke free play parks

In 2015 we introduced a voluntary no-smoking code to make play areas in parks smokefree. Signs are placed in and around each play area asking adults to abide by the code.

Smokefree Families

Our front-line staff are trained on how to raise the issue of children's exposure to secondhand smoke with families.

Illegal tobacco 

Illegal tobacco is tobacco that has been smuggled into the UK, either bootlegged (duty free) or counterfeit (fake). It is harming local communities across our county. It is not a victimless crime and it has serious consequences for health, crime and our communities.

    The Smokefree Tobacco Control Alliance for County Durham

    Partners from across our county work together to implement action locally. The alliance has a five year Action Plan which has the following objectives:

    • developing infrastructure, skills and capacity at local level and influencing national action
    • reducing exposure to second-hand smoke
    • helping smokers to quit
    • media, communications and social marketing
    • reducing the availability and supply of tobacco products
    • reducing the promotion of promotion
    • tobacco regulation
    • research, monitoring and evaluation

    What is happening across the north east?

    We are the lead commissioner on behalf of 11 north east councils to commission Fresh - Smoke Free North East, the dedicated regional tobacco control programme set up to tackle the worst rates of smoking-related illness and death in the country.

    Since its launch, the north east has seen the largest fall in smoking in England, a fall of nearly a third with around 165,000 fewer smokers. While still too high, we also now have the lowest youth smoking rates and rates of women smoking during pregnancy on record for our region. 

    Contact us
    Public Health
    03000 264 109
    Our address is:
    • County Hall
    • Adult and Health Services
    • Durham
    • County Durham
    • United Kingdom
    • DH1 5UJ