Resort has the greatest proportion of smokers
NEWQUAY has the highest proportion of smokers in the county, the Cornish Guardian has learnt.
The latest Community Network Profile for the resort, compiled by the NHS, suggests 23 per cent of people registered with a GP are smokers. The average for Cornwall is 18 per cent.
Health bosses could offer no explanation as to why so many people in the town smoke, although there is some suggestion that its young demographic could be a factor.
Statistics show that almost a fifth (19 per cent) of the registered smokers are aged between 16 and 24, compared to 16 per cent county-wide.
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Gareth Walsh, of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Stop Smoking Service, said the report was based on figures compiled in 2009 and numbers should have reduced over the past three years.
"The majority of people start smoking in their teens and quickly become addicted," he said.
"By taking tobacco off show in supermarkets and putting prominent health warnings on packets, we hope to prevent young people getting the impression that smoking is a normal part of life.
"Parents also have a key role to play in quitting the habit themselves and ensuring their children understand the health impacts of inhaling smoke."
Smokers ran a much greater risk of developing serious or life-threatening illnesses such as cancer and other diseases of the heart and lungs and were known to be at a substantially higher risk of contracting lung cancer through exposure to radon gas, of which Cornwall has much higher levels than other areas of the UK.
The naturally occurring radioactive gas comes from the gradual decay of uranium in the ground and can become concentrated inside people's homes.
Figures released by the Health Protection Agency show that 188 of 2,520 Newquay homes (7 per cent) tested for radon in 2010 recorded higher than acceptable levels.
The cut-off point is 200 becquerels per cubic metre of air, but some properties in the resort registered between 1,500 and 2,000 becquerels – up to 10 times the safe level.
Non-smokers living in a house where the level is 200 have a one in 190 chance of developing lung cancer in their lifetime, but the risk leaps to one in five for smokers.
Felicity Owen, director of public health at the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Primary Care Trust, said: "It's especially important for smokers, or ex-smokers, to act on high results because radon presents a significantly bigger heath risk to these groups."
For more information see www.ukradon.org or www.healthpromcornwall.org/projects/stop-smoking-service