Blackpool saw lockdown increase in smoking and drinking

Levels of alcohol intake and smoking have gone up in Blackpool during the Covid pandemic reflecting national trends, according to public health officials in the town.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 10:15 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 3:44 pm

National data comparing March 2020 and March 2021 shows a 58.6 per cent increase of people reporting they are drinking at higher-risk levels of 50 units a week for men and 35 units a week for women, when the recommendation is 14 units per week.

Figures from Cancer Research UK indicate England saw a rise in young adults taking up smoking during the first lockdown, with the number of 18 to 34-year-olds who classed themselves as smokers having increased from 21.5 per cent to 26.8 per cent.

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There are concerns more young people are taking up smoking

A meeting of Blackpool Council’s adult social care and health scrutiny committee, heard while local figures were not available, other evidence points to Blackpool falling in line with the national trends.

One snapshot shows the number of people seen by a key alcohol treatment service in the town increased to 269 in February 2021, compared to 227 in April 2020.

A council report said: “Despite clubs, pubs etc closing during national lockdowns, the total amount of alcohol released for sale during the pandemic was still similar to the pre-pandemic years, which suggests people are drinking more at home.”

Liz Petch, public health specialist at Blackpool Council, said there was “anecdotal evidence of more young people taking up smoking in Blackpool.”

She said young people were “highly likely” to smoke if their parents smoked, while many young people “used e-cigarettes where smoking was unacceptable” but switched to regular tobacco elsewhere.

She also warned there was a need to tackle the supply of illicit tobacco in Blackpool.

However a new smoking cessation service is operating in the town, delivered by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals with the aim being to focus resources on the people who need it most.

The report adds: “There is a new focus on young people due to the increase in smoking rates during lock down. ”

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