Campaign inspires North East smokers to quit

Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh.
Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh.

A campaign warning how smoking can cause 16 different types of cancer has resulted in thousands of North East residents taking steps to quit.

Fresh’s Quit 16 campaign, supported by Cancer Research UK, highlighted the toll smoking-related cancers have on families in the region, with an estimated 3,077 new cases of cancer and 2,192 deaths from cancer in the North East in 2013.

The campaign is launched again this week.

Smoking is the biggest cause of lung cancer, but it also causes cancers of the mouth, nasal cavities, pharynx and larynx, stomach, kidney, bowel, liver, pancreas, cervix, bladder and ovaries, oesophagus and ureter, as well as myeloid leukaemia.

Quit 16 shared the stories of former smokers from across the region who have been affected by a smoking-related cancer, including Maggie Bratton, from Northumberland, who needed surgery and a plastic replacement for the roof of her mouth without which she now cannot speak.

Research after the campaign found that seven out of 10 smokers were more concerned about smoking after seeing it, which translated into 16 per cent (around 53,000) of smokers who saw the campaign cutting down.

Nearly nine per cent of smokers who saw it made a quit attempt (around 28,000 people), while four per cent switched to an electronic cigarette (around 13,000 people).

Fresh’s Quit 16 campaign will be running again throughout May to encourage people to find out about local support and free quitting tools available at Quit16.co.uk
Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, said: “We know there’s worryingly low awareness of the links between smoking and 16 different types of cancer in the North East and that’s exactly why Quit 16 was so important.

“It’s encouraging to see so many people across the region take positive steps to reduce the amount they smoke or to quit altogether.”

Maggie, from Northumberland, was diagnosed with mouth cancer at just 45 and underwent surgery to remove the roof of her mouth and now relies on a plastic replacement to eat and talk.

The 60-year-old shared her story in support of Quit 16 and she has been overwhelmed by the positive impact her experiences have had on other people, not just in the North East but internationally.

She said: “I’m so pleased I told my story. I have family in Canada and I know the film has been shared with so many people over there as well as here. I’ve heard from lots of people saying that they’ve tried to quit smoking as a result.

“The feedback from friends has been overwhelming and it’s great to see the impact the Quit 16 campaign has had. I always said that if sharing my story could help just one person then it would be worthwhile so I have done what I set out to do.

“I hope even more smokers are inspired to give quitting a go, it really can change your life.”