Arun has the fifth highest smoking rate among men in the UK, according to a recent study.
The report, by e-cigarette retailer Vapourcore, analyses figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Public Health England to investigate gender differences in smoking habits.
According to the research, 28.2 per cent of men in the Arun district are smokers, compared to the national average of 17.7 per cent and the 33.1 per cent highest of Rossendale, Lancashire.
Sussex neighbour Hastings topped the rankings for women at 27.8 per cent, compared to the national average of 14.1 per cent.
Charles Bloom, managing director of Vapourcore, said while men have typically always smoked more than women, the gap is shortening.
“As less and less people decide against lighting up, the gender gap begins to shift and draw closer,” he said.
“What is interesting is where in the UK men and women smoke the most. We found the top ten local authorities in England for the highest male smoking rates differ completely to the top ten for the highest female smoking rates.
“This suggests it isn’t necessarily triggered by any one factor, such as employment or education, but choice.
“Perhaps more needs to be done in these areas to promote the benefits of giving up and to outline the help and advice that is available.”
The national average for adult smokers across the UK is 15.5 per cent, which continues a downward trend. In 2010, a similar survey by the ONS placed the average at 20.1 per cent, lowering to 17.2 per cent in 2015.
In 2017, the Government pledged to cut the proportion of adult smokers to at least 12 percent by 2022 as part of its tobacco control plan.
County, town and district councillor Dr James Walsh, a GP in Littlehampton from 1973 to 2013, remembers a time when the average rate was 80 per cent but insists more needs to be done to lower the smoking rate.
“I’m surprised that it is still so high, given that we have heard for 40 years about the bad effects of smoking, with the increased risks of heart disease and cancer,” he said.
“We have got to do more, clearly, to make sure young people don’t start smoking and to persuade older people to give up.”
The study also shows that people from ‘deprived areas’ are four times more likely to start smoking, a statistic Dr Walsh puts down to poorer access to education and the fact that smoking is still a relatively affordable release.
“While it mostly comes down to education – teaching people about the harmful effects of smoking – it’s also about increasing taxes on cigarettes to make smoking less affordable,” he said.
On average, men who smoke will have 12 cigarettes a day while women will smoke 11, according to the report.
West Sussex County Council offers advice through its website, encouraging smokers to speak to their GP or pharmacist or to visit the NHS service NHS Smokefree. It also runs support events throughout the year, including the annual 28 day Stoptober challenge.
More information on Vapourcore can be found at: www.vapourcore.com