SMOKERS in Wales are being urged to seek expert help to kick the habit, in the wake of newly-published figures that reveal an increase in the lung cancer death rate in some age groups.

Experts at Public Health Wales are encouraging people to use the Help Me Quit programme, with which they say smokers are four times more likely to give up, than if they attempt to go it alone.

A report from the Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit (WCISU), highlighted death rate increases, and Ashley Gould, consultant in public health with Public Health Wales, said: “We’ve known for a long time that smoking is the biggest cause of premature death and disability in Wales - it causes 16 per cent of all cancers, and over 80 per cent of lung cancers.

“The publication of the latest cancer report by WCISU shows that the decrease in the death rate for several types of cancers, including lung cancer, since the early 2010s, has slowed down.”

Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in Wales, accounting for 1,891 deaths in 2017.

This was more than two in 10 of all cancer deaths in Wales last year, and more than those caused by bowel and breast cancers combined.

“We’re very concerned that the lung cancer death rate in Wales is now increasing among several age groups, of both men and women," said Mr Gould.

“Furthermore, there is a much higher rate of lung cancer deaths in more disadvantaged areas than the least disadvantaged areas.

"This gap widened by over a fifth between 2001-2005 and 2013-2017.

“The good news is that the NHS in Wales can help reduce the single biggest cause of lung cancer - by helping smokers to quit.

"Help Me Quit offers free treatment and support that means smokers are four times more likely to quit, than if they go it alone.

“All smokers can access free stop smoking advice and medication, close to their homes, or over the telephone by searching online for Help Me Quit, calling Freephone 0800 085 2219, or texting HMQ to 80818.

"It’s never too late to start your quit journey."

The rate of reduction in cancer death rates as a whole in Wales slowed down during 2010-17, according to the WCISU report.

The age adjusted cancer death rate in Wales fell by 5.4 per cent, compared to the period before 2010, when it fell by 9.2 per cent.