Oxfordshire set to become first 'smoke-free' county in England

2 June 2021, 06:47 | Updated: 2 June 2021, 07:07

The county aims to be completely smoke-free by 2025.
The county aims to be completely smoke-free by 2025. Picture: PA

By Emma Soteriou

Oxfordshire is set to become the first county to go ‘smoke-free’, with plans to ban smoking outside restaurants and offices to be put in place by 2025.

A date for the proposed ban was not confirmed, but it will be enforced following the end of the government's roadmap out of lockdown.

Oxfordshire County Council hopes to reduce smoking among adults to below five per cent by 2025.

Other targets include reducing smoking among workers to below 10 per cent and cutting the number of pregnant women smoking at the time of delivery to below four per cent.

The council will be collaborating with the NHS and local authorities to reach these targets, having signed the Local Government Declaration on Tobacco and the NHS Smokefree Pledge in 2020.

Read more: Drivers in Birmingham face new daily charge as Clean Air Zone launches

Oxfordshire's public health director, Ansaf Azhar, previously described the new strategy as a “long game” to combat smoking culture.

He told the county's health improvement partnership board: “It is not about telling people not to smoke.

“It is about moving and creating an environment in which not smoking is encouraged and they are empowered to do so.

“But that is not going to happen overnight.”

Read more: Sunak: G7 working for ‘green and global’ economic recovery post-Covid

The public health official leading the strategy, Dr Adam Briggs, added: "We have got a condition that is entirely a commercially driven cause of death and disease.

"It is impossible to be on the wrong side of history with tobacco consumption."

The county wants to create spaces where people feel 'empowered' not to smoke.
The county wants to create spaces where people feel 'empowered' not to smoke. Picture: PA

The local authority also plans to crackdown on illicit tobacco being sold at cheaper prices, which undermines "the effectiveness of taxation" and makes it "harder for smokers to quit".

Campaigns will be introduced to raise public awareness and increase the number of people that share intelligence on the matter.