Who we are

Fresh and Balance is a regional programme dedicated to reducing the harm from tobacco and alcohol in the North East of England.

We have over 30 years of  combined experience delivering award-winning programs and collaborating with a wide range of partners from local to international levels.

Our core strategic aim is to work at population level for a societal shift around tobacco and alcohol use and the industries profiting from them. Over decades the North East has suffered the highest rates of smoking and alcohol harm in England. The cost is felt to our health, our public finances and our society.

We highlight the devastating impact of tobacco and alcohol to our region, the effective action needed to reduce harm, and support people in our communities to quit smoking and reduce their drinking.

While the challenge may seem vast, the need for action and awareness has never been greater. We have made good progress in the North East particularly in reducing smoking rates but there is still much to be done.

  • 13.1% of people smoke (around 270,000 adults. We now know up to 2 in 3 long term smokers die of a smoking related condition.
  • Nearly 1 million adults in the North East drink above low risk alcohol guidelines, raising their risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke and other conditions.

We are hosted by County Durham and Darlington NHS Trust and work with a wide range of local government and NHS partners, the police, national charities, academics and international organisations dedicated to health.

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Why we do this

Alcohol and tobacco are fuelling ill health, disability, hospital admissions and deaths in our region. They are widening inequalities and worsening life chances.

Together the staggering combined cost to the North East is nearly £3.5bn billion a year to individuals and families, businesses and organisations, to local authorities and in healthcare and social care.

Smoking is the single biggest cause of health inequality in England. The more disadvantaged someone is, the more likely they are to smoke and to suffer from smoking-related disease and early death.

People living in deprived areas are also much more likely to end up in hospital from alcohol or die from alcohol. Watch this video from Ailsa Rutter OBE, Director of Fresh and Balance