Tobacco is still the North East’s biggest killer and cause of preventable disease. Cigarettes have been proven to damage the health of smokers and those around them. They can cause heart disease and lung cancer and smoking kills around 120,000 people a year in the UK. It is extremely harmful to smoke when pregnant and puts the baby at risk.

Smoking and the law

In England and Wales it is illegal for retailers to sell tobacco to anyone under the age of 18. Although there is no minimum age for consumption in public and private, authorities may confiscate tobacco from anybody under the age of 16. The Government has announced plans to make it illegal for adults to buy traditional cigarettes for anyone under 18.

Smoking is not allowed in any enclosed workplace, any work vehicle used by more than one person, any public building or on public transport in the UK. Workers can be fined up to £200 if they smoke at work. Businesses can be fined up to £2,500 if they don’t stop people smoking in the workplace - or up to £1,000 if they don’t display 'no smoking' signs.

It is also illegal to smoke in private vehicles carrying someone under the age of 18.

Electronic cigarettes (E-cigs, Vapers or Vapesticks)

An estimated 2.9 million adults in the UK currently use electronic cigarettes (E-cigs, Vapers or Vapesticks) as an alternative to traditional cigarettes, to help them to stop smoking or help them cut down the number of cigarettes that they smoke.

Electronic cigarettes are exempt from the 2007 nationwide smoking ban, but employers, shops, restaurants and pubs can prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes on their premises, so you should always check before 'lighting up'.

It is illegal to sell electronic cigarettes or e-liquids to anyone under the age of 18. It is illegal for adults to buy electronic cigarettes for anyone under the age of 18. 

Experts don't yet know what effects electronic cigarettes could have on young people's health.

Quitting smoking

Quitting smoking isn't easy, but it can offer drastic improvements to your life and health.

Fresh provides a regional programme aimed at creating a smoke free North East. The Take 7 Steps Out campaign aims to help people keep their homes smokefree, making them healthier and more pleasant places to live.

Visit the NHS Smokefree website for information and advice to help you find your best way of stopping smoking.