‘Poor’ Tower Hamlets has highest smoking deaths in London

SMOKING death rates in Tower Hamlets are almost three times higher than richer parts of London, a damming report revealed this week.

In what health experts called “a stubborn marker of London’s poorest communities,” Tower Hamlets had a smoking death rate of 315 per 100,000, compared to just 127 in Kensington & Chelsea.

The borough topped the list of smoking-related death rates in the Capital, the London Health Observatory revealed.

The breakdown was equally disturbing with Tower Hamlets having the highest rate of oral cancer deaths in the country – 15.3 per 100,000 compared to a national average of just 8.5.

When it came to heart disease deaths from smoking, Tower Hamlets again topped the London list, with 53.6 per 100,000 compared to the lowest Kensington & Chelsea with 18.4.

The borough also had the highest rate of lung cancer deaths – 61.7 per 100,000 - and

chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) deaths – 47.5 per 100,000 – in the Capital.

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Director of the London Health Observatory, Dr Bobbie Jacobson, said: “These findings show that smoking remains a stubborn marker of London’s poorest communities.”

She added: “The biggest burden of smoking-related ill-health still falls on our poorest communities.”

But it wasn’t all bad news with the rate of pregnant women smoking in Tower Hamlets much lower than the national average with four per 100,000 compared to 14.6 per 100,000.

The borough also had the highest rates of successful quitters, with Tower Hamlets NHS claiming to have helped 2,700 kick the habit this year.

A NHS Tower Hamlets spokesman said: “We recognise that Tower Hamlets has some of the highest smoking rates in the country - it was estimated in 2007 that 37 per-cent (70,000) of the borough’s adult population smoked compared to 21 per-cent in England. Figures from the 2009 Tower Hamlets Annual Healthy Lifestyle Survey suggest the smoking population has decreased to approximately 27 per-cent across the borough.

“Our Tobacco Control Alliance’s strategy to confront tobacco usage in the borough has greatly contributed to improving the overall health and well being of residents.

“Tower Hamlets has very high rates of smoking and tobacco product (Paan, Shisha and Betel Nut) use which has a detrimental impact upon the health of our community. We have a large network of people committed to helping local people stop.”