THERE are fewer smokers in Somerset than the national average, data from Public Health England has revealed as people start to undertake their new year's resolutions. 

The figures show that around one in nine people in the county (10.8 per cent) smoked in 2020, putting it below the UK average of 12.1 per cent.

The smokers include 11.9 per cent of men in the county and 9.8 per cent of women.

Somerset County Council’s health and wellbeing lead said it is “encouraging” to see that Somerset is below the national average for smoking and outlined the support available to people who have made quitting their new year’s resolution.

Councillor Clare Paul, Somerset County Council’s cabinet member of health and wellbeing, said: “With many of us experiencing heightened levels of stress, especially with the challenges of the ongoing pandemic, it’s hardly surprising that some people may have seen an increase in their smoking and drinking habits.

“It is therefore encouraging to see that the number of people who smoke in Somerset is below the national average. Anyone pledging to stop this new year, there is plenty of help available.”

The council provides a free stop smoking programme, Smokefreelife Somerset, to help the county’s residents quit.

“The core service offers specialist support for the public wishing to quit smoking, and the Mums2Be smokefree service is a specialist service for women in preconception or pregnancy and their partners," said Clare.

“They have qualified stop smoking practitioners who offer behavioural support and compliment this with the provision of stop smoking medications free of charge where appropriate.”

Somerset County Gazette: SUPPORT: A council spokesperson said it is "encouraging" to see Somerset is below the national average for smoking and encouraged people to quit (Image: Gareth Fuller, PA Wire)SUPPORT: A council spokesperson said it is "encouraging" to see Somerset is below the national average for smoking and encouraged people to quit (Image: Gareth Fuller, PA Wire)

Around 33.6 per cent of people living in Somerset reported themselves to be ex-smokers, while 55.6 per cent of the county’s population has never smoked.

More men than women have reported giving up the habit successfully in Somerset – 39.1 per cent of male smokers compared to 28.7 per cent of female smokers.

The data was revealed shortly after the Government launched its Better Health Smoke-Free campaign, which highlighted the impact smoking can have on families and children to give parents extra motivation to quit.

Another popular new year’s resolution is dry January, the UK’s one-month alcohol-free challenge.

The council has support in place for local people who are prepared to go 31 days without a drink – even if they did not start on New Year’s Day.  

Cllr Paul added: “The council also supports Dry January, an opportunity to reset our relationship with alcohol.

“Giving up alcohol, even for a month, comes with so many benefits like better sleep and more energy, improved mental health and concentration, a fabulous look and brighter skin, a better bank balance, and an amazing sense of achievement.

“Well done to all those making new year’s resolutions to quit or reduce.

“It’s not too late to get involved – pick a day and give the booze up for thirty-one days.

“There is lots of support available like the Try Dry App to help you along the way.

“Support is also available from Somerset Drugs and Alcohol Service for anybody who thinks they have a problem with alcohol.”

The charity Turning Point delivers the Somerset Drug and Alcohol Service (SDAS), which provides free and confidential support for people who want to change their relationship with alcohol.

For support, speak to your GP, call SDAS (0300 303 8788), or visit