FEWER than one in ten people are now smokers in two districts near York, new figures have revealed.

Latest data from Public Health England shows that only 8.4 per cent of people in Hambleton are active smokers, and 9.9 per cent of people in Selby.

The figure in Ryedale is 10.4 per cent, while 11.9 per cent of people in the York area are active smokers.

An average of 15.7 per cent of people across Yorkshire & The Humber are smokers, compared with a national average of 13.9 per cent.

The place with the highest percentage in the region is Kingston upon Hull, with 22.2 per cent of the population smoking.

Dan Marchant, smoking cessation expert and Director of Vape Club, said more and more people were starting to see that vaping offered a game-changing alternative to traditional smoking cessation methods.

"Figures show that vaping is actually twice as effective as other nicotine replacement products, and it is fantastic to see organisations such as Public Health England and the NHS embracing this public health breakthrough."

The figures have been published as NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group, York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and City of York Council are specifically highlighting the heightened health risks for smokers who have Coronavirus.

Dr Nigel Wells, Clinical Chair NHS Vale of York CCG said: “Smoking causes damage to the lungs and airways and harms the immune system, reducing a person’s ability to fight against infections such as COVID-19. Smoking also involves repetitive hand-to-face movements, which increase the risk of viruses entering the body.

“This is the time to stop smoking. Unfortunately COVID-19 has effected many of our patients and we know it can be life threatening. It’s more important than ever to do what we can to stay safe and healthy.”

Dr Ruwani Rupesinghe, Registrar in Respiratory Medicine, York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: “Most people are already aware of the health risks associated with smoking. As a clinician, I have seen how smoking damages the lungs and the immune system, making it harder to fight off infections. For the last few months all our lives have been impacted by COVID-19 and there is evidence showing that if you are a smoker and catch COVID-19 your symptoms could be more severe than in non-smokers."

Cllr Carol Runciman, Executive Member for health and social care said: “Smoking is the largest cause of preventable death and every year over 300 people die from smoking-related illness in the city. However, we have seen over a million people quit smoking across the country since the pandemic started in order to improve their health."