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20 September 2016, 06:00
Smoking rates across the North East are the lowest on record, health officials have said.
Public Health England (PHE) said that 18.7% of our region's population are smokers - the lowest level since records began.
It means there are now 189,000 fewer people smoking in the North East than in 2005.
The figures were released as the health body launched its annual Stoptober campaign to encourage the nation's remaining smokers to quit for the month of October.
If people give up the habit for 28 days they are five times more likely to quit for good, PHE said.
In England there are now twice as many ex-smokers (14.6 million people), than current smokers (7.2 million), PHE added.
Last year, out of the 2.5 million smokers who made a quit attempt, 500,000 people (20%) were successful.
PHE also released regional figures on areas that have seen the biggest decreases in smoking rates over the last four years.
Professor Kevin Fenton, national director of health and wellbeing at PHE, said:
``While it is amazing that there are over twice as many ex-smokers as current smokers in England, there are still over seven million people regularly lighting up."
``Alongside unhealthy diet, smoking is the biggest cause of preventable early death in England, accounting for over 78,000 deaths a year.
"Quitters will soon see they have reduced blood pressure, easier breathing and better circulation."
"Stopping smoking is the best thing a smoker can do to improve their health.''
Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh North East, said:
"Most smokers would like to be able to quit and every quit attempt is different. Even if you have tried before but failed, give it another go this Stoptober."
"There's never been so much support out there that is helping people find their own best way to quit, from electronic cigarettes to stop smoking services who now welcome people using their own ecigs to stop."
Professor Eugene Milne, Director of Public Health at Newcastle City Council, said:
"Stoptober is back and thousands of people across the North East will be joining in."
"Stopping smoking might seem hard but if you stop for a month you're five times more likely to stay quit, especially if you get support."
"In Newcastle we have dedicated services, Lifeline, HealthWorks, as well as 63 Pharmacies across the city, all ready to support you."