BURY has one of the highest smoking rates in the nation, shocking new data has revealed.

According to the latest figures 16.3 per cent of Bury residents are smokers ­— well above the average in England.

Fewer smokers in the borough are also managing to quit, compared to the national and regional averages, increasing hospital admissions and putting pressure on health services.

These problems extend region-wide, and a Public Health England study has found that the North West has one of the highest number of smokers in England.

An estimated 84,500 more people assume the habit in the North West than the national average.

The region also ranks highly for smoking related hospital admissions, while spending on smoking cessation support has faced drastic cuts.

However following the warning, Bury Council says helping smokers quit is a priority for the authority and efforts have worked to cut the borough's smoking rates considerably.

A council spokesman said: "Smoking rates in Bury have fallen significantly in recent years – from 23.3% of adults in 2011 to 16.3% in 2017. This is a bigger reduction than most places in the North West, and the third highest drop in Greater Manchester.

“This is undoubtedly due in part to the high priority we put on education and on providing advice and practical support to smokers who want to quit."

In a separate report published this week it was revealed that support to help the region’s smokers quit has been slashed dramatically in the last five years.

The study by Action on Smoking and Health and Cancer Research UK found that funding for smoking cessation support in the North West has fallen by 30 per cent since 2014.

The report’s authors say that cut backs on support mean the Government is in “serious danger” of missing targets to cut smoking rates to 12 per cent or less by 2022.

Trends show that while adult smoking rates are still falling figures have plateaued for other groups, notably pregnant women.

Smoking rates between rich and poor also remain unchanged.

Kruti Shrotri, cancer prevention policy manager at Cancer Research UK called on the Government to reverse its public health budget cuts, adding: “Too many people still die from smoking, and we know that most smokers want to quit. Smokers in disadvantaged circumstances generally find quitting harder but are around three times more likely to quit successfully with the help of stop smoking services. We can’t deny those most in need of vital help that could save their life.”

A Bury Council spokesman said: “It is true that national funding for public health has reduced since 2016, meaning a real-terms reduction of around 17% for Bury.

"However, this has not reduced our determination to make smoking a thing of the past, as quitting smoking is the single most important thing a smoker can do to improve their health.

“We have redesigned services to ensure they are as effective and efficient as possible. Part of this has been to combine smoking cessation services with the Bury Lifestyle Service, to ensure that local people can be supported to improve their health across the board.

“Bury’s health and social care leaders have recently approved a tobacco control plan for 2019-2022, which will focus on the following:

- raising awareness of the dangers of smoking and the quitting services available, through campaigns including TV and radio

- promoting smoke-free environments and events

- enforcing tobacco regulation

- offering support to quit via existing services such as the Bury Lifestyle Service but also in hospitals and via telephone helplines and websites.”