A new plan to reduce the number of smokers in Wales to 16% by 2020 has been launched by the Welsh Government.

Smoking contributes most to the current burden of disease in Wales, causing around 5,450 deaths each year and costing the NHS an estimated £302m annually.

The National Survey for Wales 2016-17 showed that 19% of adults in Wales currently smoke - a significant reduction from 25% in 2005-6.

This exceeded the Welsh Government target of reducing smoking rates to 20% by 2016.

A new three-year Tobacco Control Delivery Plan aims to build on the progress already made following the first 10 years of the smoking ban in Wales.

Actions in the new plan include:
  • Introducing a statutory ban on smoking in hospital grounds, school grounds, public playgrounds and outdoor care settings for children by summer 2019;
  • Helping more smokers to quit by encouraging the use of integrated smoking cessation services;
  • Strengthening referral pathways to smoking cessation services, particularly for groups with high smoking prevalence.
The plan comes following new figures which revealed that 14,750 Welsh smokers were treated by smoking cessation services in 2016-17.

It means just 2.91% of the estimated smoking population of Wales made an attempt to quit with help from health professionals in that period.

The Welsh Government's target is that all health boards must treat 5% of the smoking population.

Comment: So, it's not good enough that a person quits smoking on their own, they must have the help of the hyper-controlling government while quitting.

Public Health Minister Rebecca Evans said: "As part of our plan for a healthier and more active Wales, we want to support as many people as possible to give up smoking.

"The Tobacco Control Delivery Plan 2017-2020 aims to make smoking cessation services provided by healthcare professionals more accessible.

"Reducing the rate of smoking will in turn reduce the number of number of people exposed to second hand smoke.

"I'm pleased that we are leading the way in protecting our future generations through the Public Health (Wales) Act 2017, which includes a ban on smoking in playgrounds and school grounds.

"In order to continue the remarkable culture-change relating to smoking that we have seen in Wales in recent years, I want everyone to 'Choose Smokefree'."

Here's how has the smoking ban has affected Wales

Last year a Tobacco Control Strategic Board was established, chaired by the Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Frank Atherton, to oversee the delivery of the new plan and ensure momentum is maintained to achieve the 16% target.

Mr Atherton said: "Reducing smoking prevalence in Wales will not only benefit the nation's health, but will also relieve some pressure on the NHS.

"The work we have done as the strategic board and its sub-groups for cessation, prevention and reducing exposure to smoking has developed this delivery plan.

"We are confident the actions detailed will help us reach the target of reducing the number of smokers to 16% of the population by 2020."

In April NHS Wales launched "Help Me Quit" to make it easier for smokers to get support from NHS Wales.

Over the last five months, it is claimed 200,000 people from across Wales have engaged with Help Me Quit on social media, 60% of adults in Wales have watched a TV advert and almost 30,000 people viewed the Help Me Quit website.

Ashley Gould, consultant in public health at Public Health Wales, said: "Nearly seven in 10 smokers in Wales say they would like to quit and break free from the health and money worries that smoking causes.

"We know that the very best way smokers can quit is with NHS help, so the positive reaction from smokers across Wales to Help Me Quit has been fantastic."