Annual Director of Public Health Report

Emerging from the fog

The Director of Public Health has the statutory requirement to produce and publish a report that covers a key theme within local health issues and services.

The 2024 Annual Director of Public Health report is focussed on smoking and vaping in Bexley, and the services that are in place to help residents on their quitting journey. Cigarette smoking is one of the most common causes of premature death in the UK, with links to over 50 serious illnesses and diseases. Numerous attempts at bringing tobacco control to the forefront of national and local public health messages has led to a year on year reduction in smoking prevalence across the UK, with Bexley following this trend locally. In 2022, just over 1 in 8 Bexley residents were registered as people who smoke, equivalent to 25,618 residents.

Despite the decreasing rates of cigarette smoking, public health teams across the country have seen a rapid rise in the number of people taking up vaping. The pleasant and varied flavours appeal to a younger audience, with figures of children taking up vaping mirroring those of childhood smoking before the legal age of purchase was raised in 2006. Nationally in 2023, 1 in 5 children between the ages of 11-17 had tried vaping, equivalent to 4,434 children in Bexley. In adults, this figure was 1 in 11 which is the same as 17,269 residents aged 18 and above using vapes.

This year’s report highlights the services currently being offered in the borough, and the impact they have had on the landscape of smoking in Bexley, as well as the new initiatives that are set to be trialled and implemented in the coming years. The report reasserts the efforts of Bexley’s Public Health team, Health Care partners, the Voluntary Sector, and those in all areas of the Council to support the call to action and reverse the trend. All the while, we will continue to pursue an innovative, methodical, and whole system approach to help tackle smoking and vaping in Bexley.

Find out more about our report on Smoking and Vaping in Bexley