Smokers encouraged to quit as 2017 begins

Marlene Westwick and Kaylee Jo Kendal.
Marlene Westwick and Kaylee Jo Kendal.
  • 45 people die every day of cardiovascular disease caused by smoking
  • Currently 18.7% of people in the North East smoke
  • Smoking increases the risk of heart disease by a quarter (24%)

The region’s smokers are being encouraged to quit for New Year to reduce their risk of a range of smoking-related heart problems.

Fresh and Public Health England have launched a campaign to highlight the damaging effect smoking has on the heart, as it is revealed that 45 people a day die of cardiovascular disease (CVD) caused by smoking – more than 16,500 a year in England.

CVD, which includes heart attacks and strokes, is one of the main causes of death and disability in the country and quitting has been identified as the single best thing a smoker can do to protect their heart.

Marlene Westwick, 62, from Prudhoe, has angina and COPD. She finally found the strength to stop smoking earlier this year after her granddaughter pleaded with her to quit.

She said: “If I had one message for anyone thinking about stopping smoking, I’d say just give it a go.

“It’s your life you’re losing by smoking.

“Think of your children, grandchildren, partner and loved ones and how it’ll affect them when you’re gone.”

She added: “Even if you don’t succeed at first, they say that God loves a trier. Give it a go, see how you feel and you might surprise yourself.”

The latest campaign from Public Health England (PHE) coincides with the first year when all cigarettes sold in the UK will be in standard packs with all branding removed. The packs, which will be mandatory from May, feature graphic picture and text health warnings, several of which illustrate how smoking causes cardiovascular disease and death.

PHE insights show that the two biggest motivators for smokers to quit are for their health and their families. PHE has released a new emotive short film featuring children’s TV doctor Dr Ranj working with primary school children in Coventry, to create their own heartfelt messages about the dangers of smoking. The messages, inspired by the introduction of standard packs, focus on the damage smoking does to the heart and circulatory system.