Smokers in Northumberland are being urged to ditch tobacco or at least make the switch to an e-cigarette in the run-up to Christmas to save money and improve health.
Fresh is encouraging people across the region to make 2017 the year they go smoke-free and for smokers not quite ready to take the leap, to try switching to an e-cig instead of smoking during the Christmas party season.
While quitting completely is best, switching to an e-cig is estimated to be 95 per cent safer than smoking and can save smokers thousands of pounds over the course of a year.
A major barrier to some smokers making the switch to e-cigs is the initial start-up costs. However, it's estimated that by making the switch to one of the more effective e-cigs, smokers can spend just 10 per cent of what they used to on tobacco.
The best proven effective way to quit smoking remains through licensed stop-smoking medication and support from free local stop-smoking services, but all the services in the North East welcome people using their own electronic cigarettes to stop.
Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, said: "Christmas is a time when a lot of people are out letting their hair down and enjoying themselves. However, the excesses of the festive season can lead to some people smoking more and really regretting it.
"Most smokers would like to be able to quit and we're urging everyone to give it another go for New Year. Every pack of tobacco cigarettes can lead to a mutation which can cause cancer, so every pack of cigarettes you don't smoke is doing you good.
"There is no need for cold turkey at Christmas or the New Year. Stop-smoking services can provide really effective support and products to ease the cravings. And a good starting point could be switching to an e-cig in time for the Christmas party season and avoiding that temptation to smoke."
There's a range of support available to people across the region who are keen to take their first steps towards going smoke-free.
Penny Spring, director of public health at Northumberland County Council, said: "A lot of smokers would like to quit, and we urge them to get in touch to find out about the help available. The support can really make a difference. You don't have to kick the habit on your own."
The Northumberland NHS Stop Smoking Service is provided by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Clinics are available in a range of venues, including GP practices, pharmacies and community centres. Some out-of-hours clinics are also available for those who find it difficult to attend appointments during the day.
For more information on stopping smoking and Northumberland NHS Stop Smoking Service, call 01670 813135 or visit www.northumbria.nhs.uk/stopsmoking