Smokers in Northumberland are being urged not to give up on quitting as new research shows most North East smokers are making quit attempts and many are cutting down.
A recent survey by Fresh shows that more than eight in 10 North East smokers have tried to quit smoking before and two-thirds of smokers have tried more than once. It also shows many smokers are cutting down with one in five smokers consuming five or fewer cigarettes a day compared to one in 10 in 2009, and the 'average' smoker is on 12 a day compared to 18 in 1974.
Fresh is now encouraging smokers to try again this summer and not be put off by previous attempts, as every quit attempt is different. Local stop-smoking services can also boost the odds of success with all services in the North East now welcoming people using electronic cigarettes to stop.
Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, said: "People sometimes get disheartened that they've tried to quit and not succeeded, but if you've tried before, you can also come back wiser and more prepared. Even if you have tried before loads of times, it makes absolutely no difference to your chances of success next time. Thousands of people are quitting every year and next time it could be you.
"We know there is the will and the drive to quit here in the North East. It is good to see people are cutting down, but light smoking is still very harmful so we'd urge smokers to give it another go this summer and have at least one go at quitting every year."
After the age of around 35 to 40, for every day you carry on smoking, you will lose an average of six hours of life. But the moment you stop, you start to recover this life expectancy at a rate of around six hours a day. That means quitting is always urgent, but it's never too late. It doesn't matter how young or old you are – there are always massive benefits.
While many smokers choose to go it alone, there is a range of free quit coaching on offer at stop smoking services across the region which can seriously boost people's chances of success.
Brenda Warner, manager of Northumberland NHS Stop Smoking Service, which is provided by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: "While some people do manage to quit first time, not succeeding and trying again is often part and parcel of the quitting process for others. We want to let Northumberland smokers know they are always welcome back.
"People should never think about failed quit attempts as a failure - every cigarette you didn't smoke was a success.
"And the good news is people who use their local NHS Stop Smoking Service are four times more likely to quit smoking. Our NHS Stop Smoking Service advisors can help you decide on the best evidence-based treatment and tailor a support package just for you."
For more information on stopping smoking and Northumberland NHS Stop Smoking Service, call 01670 813135 or visit www.northumbria.nhs.uk/stopsmoking
Top 10 tips for quitting this summer
1. Everyone is different – some successful quit attempts are planned, but many quit attempts are completely unplanned. Planning can help you prepare mentally, but if you suddenly feel like quitting, then go for it! Don’t feel you have to build up and prepare each time you quit!
2. Work out when you're most likely to smoke and change your routine to avoid those situations for a while. Research suggests one of the most powerful reasons people go back to smoking is finding themselves in the situations they associate with smoking.
3. Make a list of reasons in your head – health, the people you care about, fitness. If you are ever tempted to smoke, stop and remember these reasons. Most children whose parents smoke worry about it and are incredibly relieved if they quit.
4. Think about quitting smoking as a pay rise. A 12-a-day budget brand smoker buying in bulk (five packs of 18 cigarettes) is spending about £32 a week, £138 a month and £1,664 a year on cigarettes. That could buy you a lot of things…
5. Get the best support – there's loads of help, advice and support available from your local Stop Smoking Service – they can prepare you and coach you throughout the process. Your local pharmacist can also talk you through some of the best medication if you feel you need something to beat the cravings.
6. Lean on family and friends for support – make sure you talk to people close to you to get their support to help you stay quit. Quitting with a friend or partner can boost your chances also.
7. Consider an electronic cigarette to help stay free of tobacco. E-cigs are now the most popular quitting aid in the UK and are estimated to be around 95 per cent safer than tobacco cigarettes.
8. Try some of the free tools to keep you going from the national Smokefree website – choose from the quitting app, text support or the Quit Kit. A lot of people find these daily alerts can keep them focused on the goal - http://www.nhs.uk/smokefree
9. It is usually better to stop abruptly than cut down to quit. The risk with cutting down is that each remaining cigarette feels more rewarding and it creates a stronger link with the situation you smoke it in.
10. Don’t feel disheartened if you fail – come back stronger and more determined.