By Rachel Moss
People who live in rented housing are more than twice as likely to smoke as home owners, new research suggests, with people in social housing the biggest smokers.
More than one-third (35 per cent) of residents in social housing smoke, compared to a quarter of residents in private rented housing and one tenth of residents in owner-occupied housing.
The report, published by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), calls for new strategies to support people in poorer communities to quit, such as free access to e-cigarette starter kits.
Smoking is causing some communities to be “locked into” cycles of poverty and ill health, the authors warn, because people surrounded by smokers are less likely to quit than others.
Children in these communities are also more likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke and more likely to become smokers in the future.
The report calls for a number of provisions to help people in rented and social housing quit smoking, by boosting engagement with smoking communities to reduce the number of people smoking in the home.
One recommendation is for key professionals, such as debt advice workers, social care workers, health care professionals and housing professionals, to be trained to deliver informative messages about smoking.
People in social housing should also be signposted towards stop smoking clinics in community spaces, the report adds.
It also recommends directing smokers to “harm reduction alternatives” such as e-cigarettes or nicotine replacement therapy, which can support smokers in their quit journey.
As part of the report, housing provider Salix Homes was involved in a trial to help people quit smoking in Salford. The pilot saw more than a thousand tenants provided with access to free e-cigarette starter kits and additional support to help them quit. At the end of the project, 63 per cent had quit smoking and the stop smoking services had seen four times as many people accessing support and five times as many people successfully quit than usual.
The report was developed in collaboration with health, housing and academic experts, informed by tenant focus groups and backed by 35 organisations.
If you’re feeling inspired to quit, the NHS runs local stop smoking support clinics around the country. Depending on where you live, they may be hosted at your local GP surgery, pharmacy, high-street shop or even a mobile bus clinic. Your GP can refer you to a group.