BARNSLEY’S hospital-related smoking admissions are among the worst in the region, a damning report has revealed this week.

The study, compiled from Public Health England’s figures, reveals Barnsley is second to only Hull in the worst-hit list across Yorkshire and the Humber, with smoking accounting for 2,753 out of 100,000 admissions in 2017/18.

During the same period, there were 334 smoking-attributable deaths per 100,000 people over the age of 35 in the town.

Coun Jim Andrews, cabinet spokesman for public health, said: “Although Barnsley’s smoking-related hospital admissions are currently higher than the national average, the number of people in our borough that smoke continues to fall and now more than 82 per cent of adults in Barnsley don’t smoke.

“The reduction we have seen in our smoking prevalence is bigger than both the England and Yorkshire and Humber average. Therefore we would expect that hospital admissions begin to follow this trend.

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“We’ll continue to work towards ‘Breathe 2025’, our vision in which the next generation of children are born and raised in a borough free from tobacco and where smoking is rarely seen.”

Smoking prevalence across Barnsley was at 21.2 per cent early last year, which equated to more than 52,000 smokers in the town or more than one in five people, although latest figures suggest that that percentage has dropped by about four per cent as a result of the stop-smoking scheme.

Breathe 2025 aims to remove smoking from the sight of children and to create a generation where the habit is not regarded as normal behaviour, on the grounds it is better that people do not begin smoking rather than being persuaded to give up the addiction later.

The council has already introduced no-smoking zones in playgrounds, outside primary schools, Barnsley Market and around the town hall, while a scheme across Elsecar Park was adopted yesterday.

“We want to provide as many smoke-free environments as possible for children and their families to enjoy, and I’m thrilled that the whole of Elsecar Park has committed to this ambition,” Coun Andrews said.

“Evidence shows that if young people see smoking as part of everyday life they are more likely to smoke themselves so by making smoking invisible to children, we hope to vastly reduce the amount of children and young people picking up the habit and inspire a smoke-free generation.

“As well as the benefits to health, we also hope to see a reduction in cigarette litter in the park, which is costly to clean up as well as being unsightly.”

Kaye Mann, from Barnsley Public Health, added: “Half of smokers will die as a result of smoking, it is really massive.

“Smoking is an addiction and we are classing it as a disease. It is our duty to treat people and help them quit smoking. We know it isn’t easy but the stop-smoking service is completely free, we want to do as much as we can to support people.”

* People who want to give up smoking are asked to call 0800 612 0011 from a landline or 0330 660 1166 from a mobile. Both are free to call.