THE number of hospital admissions attributed to smoking increased in Poole last year, bucking the regional and national trend.

Figures published by the NHS show that there were 1,665 hospital trips across the borough for diseases that are either wholly or partly linked to smoking, rising by 30 over compared to 2016.

Bournemouth saw a small decline over the same period to 2,299 while the Dorset County Council area saw a larger decrease to 1,346 – above only Bath and North East Somerset and Wiltshire in the South West.

The data, which is published by NHS Digital annually, shows that smoking rates in England are at a record low although targets for reducing the number of pregnant smokers stayed at a similar level to 2016.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), warned that more needed to be done to improve NHS treatment for smoking.

“ASH supports the government’s vision, set out in the Tobacco Control Plan for England, of a smoke-free generation,” she said.

“But smoking must become history for all of society not just for the wealthy.

“Cuts in public health funding and lack of treatment for smoking on the NHS mean poorer more heavily addicted smokers, including those who are pregnant, are not getting the help they need to quit.”

The figures come in the same week as the Office for National Statistics publishes its report on adult smoking habits which shows that the proportion of adult smokers fell to 15.1 per cent in 2017 from 15.8 per cent the previous year.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive of PHE, said: “Smoking rates have dropped by almost a quarter in five years, a triumphant step in eliminating the nation’s biggest killer.

“The data shows we are winning the war on tobacco and that we are tantalisingly close to creating the first-ever smoke-free generation in England.

“But that war will only be won if we make more progress in helping people from deprived areas and people suffering from poor mental health, where we know smoking rates remain stubbornly high.”