Plans to crack down on smoking in Leeds are being drawn up as the number of smokers in the city is on the rise.
In recent years smoking levels have decreased from 30 to 23 per cent.
However, a health boss revealed that the city was struggling to maintain that level and more measures were needed to combat the problem.
A new action plan is now being drawn up that aims to reduce the number of smokers by 6,000 by 2015 – a reduction from 23 to 22 per cent.
Councillors on Leeds City Council’s Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Board met to discuss the new Leeds Tobacco Strategy.
The strategy includes implementing a tobacco control management group and alliance, providing more smoking cessation sessions and working with West Yorkshire Trading Standards to prevent the uptake of smoking in youngsters and crackdown on underage sales.
Work has already been carried out to prevent underage sales in Armley and Middleton, where 40 per cent of premises were found to be supplying tobacco products to underage people.
A pilot scheme is also under way in four Leeds schools to help prevent youngsters from taking up the habit.
Dr Ian Cameron, joint director of Public Health for Leeds, said: “This will be a challenge but it is also an opportunity.
“This is really important and smoking is not just a health issue.”
At the meeting, Coun John Illingworth (Lab, Kirkstall) raised the issue of patients and visitors smoking outside Leeds hospitals where smoking shelters have recently been reinstalled.
He said: “When you go to the hospitals there is a queue of people, who are often on drips, going outside for a cigarette.
“This is something we should be addressing.”
Consultation on the strategy’s first draft is expected in the next couple of months.=