North East smokers are being encouraged to give quitting a go this No Smoking Day (March 13) to feel the benefits of better health and reduce the risks of smoking-related disease.
Fresh, along with North East GP Dr Chris Tasker, is urging smokers to try and make a quit attempt at least once a year to reduce their risk of heart disease, COPD and 16 types of cancer.
It also comes as the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Smoking and Health has called for a package of measures backed by cross-party support on the APPG to achieve a smokefree generation. These include a levy on tobacco companies, raising the age of sale of tobacco from 18 to 21, a licencing scheme for premises selling tobacco to tackle underage sales and illicit tobacco, and more scrutiny of the tobacco industry’s marketing methods.
Research shows that if someone tries to stop smoking at least once a year, it improves their chances of quitting for good. There are now more ways to quit than ever before, including electronic cigarettes, stop smoking medicines, and stop smoking services. People can also ask for help to quit at their GP surgery or local pharmacies.
Former smoker and cancer survivor Maggie Bratton, whose story went around the world in Fresh’s Quit 16 campaign, also has a warning for smokers not to leave quitting until it is too late. Maggie was diagnosed at 45 with mouth cancer and had to undergo surgery to remove the roof of her mouth. She now has to wear an obturator, which is a piece of plastic that enables her to eat and speak.
Maggie said: “For No Smoking Day, what have you got to lose? My advice is to pack smoking in for the day and take each day as it comes. If you make it through the day, go to bed, get up the next day and try again. Sooner or later, you will get it out of your system. There’s also plenty of help out there for people thinking about quitting, it’s just about finding what’s right for you.
“I just want to spread the word as far and wide as possible. Don’t end up like me, stop smoking before the dreaded cancer hits.”
Ailsa Rutter OBE, Director of Fresh, said: “There are so many good reasons to quit smoking and it is too easy to put it off to another day. No Smoking Day is a perfect time to quit when thousands of other people will be stopping as well.
“Whether you are quitting on your own, with friends, work colleagues or your partner, stopping is the best thing you can do for your health, cutting your risks of heart disease, COPD and cancer. Most people who quit feel much better and save hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds a year.
“Some people do manage to quit first time – but for most people it takes a number of attempts. Don’t get disheartened if you didn’t quit first time, and don’t tell yourself you can’t do it. You can come back more determined and better prepared next time.
“We’d also encourage anyone who is switching completely from tobacco to vaping to be reassured that electronic cigarettes are helping many people to quit, and are almost certainly much less harmful that smoking tobacco.”
She added: “While it is fantastic that smoking in the North East has fallen from 29% in 2005 to 16.2% in 2019, we are still seeing too many people like Maggie and Tony diagnosed with a smoking related illness.
“We are fully supporting this package of new measures to make smoking and the diseases that tobacco causes history for the next generation.”
Dr Chris Tasker, CRUK GP for the Northern Cancer Alliance, said: “No Smoking Day is a great opportunity for people to stop smoking and I would recommend anyone considering making a quit attempt to consider doing it with someone else, whether it’s your husband, wife, friend, brother or sister. By doing it together makes it more likely you will stop.
“One of the best ways to stop smoking is to have help in the form of encouragement and support and nicotine replacement therapy and smoking cessation services do this best.
Stop smoking medicines can help you manage nicotine withdrawal symptoms and boost your chances of quitting. We know that the chances of stopping smoking are highest when you use these two things in combination.
“However, if you don’t succeed the first time you attempt to quit, don’t give up. Keep trying as no matter how many times you try you still have the same chance of stopping. Research shows that if you try at least once a year you have more chance eventually of stopping smoking.”
For tips, details of local stop smoking support and free tools to quit, visit www.nhs.uk/smokefree. Or ask at your GP surgery or local pharmacy.