SMOKING-related hospital admissions in Blackburn with Darwen have dropped significantly in the last year, according to new NHS figures.

The report on smoking, released by NHS Digital, found that the borough had 1,890 smoking related hospital admissions per 100,000 people in 2017/18.

This was significantly lower than in 2016/17, where there were 2,113 admissions per 100,000 people.

However, smoking related deaths were above the national average, with 390 deaths per 100,000 people between 2015 and 2017.

Smoking can cause illnesses such as lung cancer and heart disease which in turn leads to extra pressure on the NHS.

Blackburn with Darwen borough public health director Dominic Harrison said a cultural shift against smoking had contributed to the decline in hospital admissions.

He said: "We know that the prevalence rates for smoking have gone down across the country.

"The department of health and social care has also cut the public grant which has meant that councils have had to make 10 per cuts to these services.

"So it's fantastic that numbers for smoking continue to go down and clearly a lot of people are giving up spontaneously.

"I think the biggest thing though is a cultural shift since the smoking ban in enclosed public spaces, which has meant that smoking has become a minority thing and that people are more likely to do it from the privacy of their own homes."

Mr Harrison said that the borough had a smoking cessation service in place.

He said: "The service offers all evidence based nicotine replacement products recommended by The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

"While it offers general advice and support on how to quit smoking and has been a real success.

"But we would welcome these figures that smoking-related hospital admissions are continuing to drop in the borough.

However, Mr Harrison cautioned the use of using e-cigarettes as a tool to quit smoking.

He added: "As a council, we are reasonably neutral about people using e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking but nervous of the fact it can normalise it all."