Health chiefs in Shropshire are encouraging smokers across the county to kick the habit as part of a new campaign launched this week by Public Health England.
The NHS Smokefree Health Harm campaign raises awareness of the serious harm and damage smoking can cause.
Tobacco smoke contains toxic chemicals including arsenic, cyanide, carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. Every time you smoke, blood that’s thick and dirty with toxins circulates through your body in seconds, increasing your chances of a heart attack. Smoking is also the biggest cause of lung cancer.
Along with the heart and lungs, the brain is particularly vulnerable to the toxins found in cigarettes, leading to an increased risk of stroke and dementia. Smoking can cause the arteries to narrow which, in turn, increases the likelihood of blood clots that can lead to a stroke.
The new campaign, supported by a series of hard hitting TV commercials, brings to life the toxic cycle of dirty blood caused by inhaling the dangerous chemicals in cigarettes flowing through the body and damaging major organs. The chemicals move through the heart, the lungs and into the bloodstream, finally damaging cells in the brain.
Smoking still remains the biggest cause of premature death in England, accounting for 80,000 deaths a year with half of all long-term smokers dying prematurely from a smoking-related disease.
Latest figures released by Public Health England this week show Shropshire continues to reduce the number of smokers in the county, down from 18.73% of the population in 2010/11 to 17.38% in 2011/12. This is one of the lowest rates in the West Midlands. Those who still smoke are being urged to take heed of the new campaign’s health warnings.
Karen Calder, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for health, said:
“We know about the serious effect smoking has on the heart and lungs, but smokers need to be aware of how much potential damage is being done to the brain and other vital organs through toxins in cigarettes entering the blood.
“Stopping smoking is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of stroke; after five years of giving up, your risk of stroke can be reduced to that of a non-smoker. We welcome the NHS Smokefree Health Harm campaign to tackle this serious issue.”
Dr Kevin Lewis, Shropshire Council’s director of preventive health programmes, added:
“Smoking is the leading cause of premature death, with one in two smokers dying prematurely from smoking-related disease. The good news is that the number of people smoking in Shropshire is at an all-time low. However, with just over 17% of the adult population still smoking, it is extremely worrying that people still underestimate the health harms associated with it.
“I urge all smokers to make a fresh start this month and stop smoking for good. There are now more ways of quitting than ever before, but stopping with the help of your local NHS stop smoking service is by far the most successful way to quit. Contact Shropshire’s Help2Quit on 01743 453537, by emailing email@example.com or visit their website at www.shropscommunityhealth.nhs.uk/help2quit for details of your nearest service.”
Pat Thomas, Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust Help 2 Quit Smoking Cessation Coordinator, said:
“We very much welcome the NHS Smokefree Health Harms campaign as part of Help 2 Quit’s ongoing work to support those seeking to kick the habit in Shropshire. The Help 2 Quit service is a free 12-week programme of support with access to treatments that enables smokers to get through the addiction of nicotine and hopefully stay smokefree. Extensive sessions are held throughout the county at different times of the day, evenings and weekends at GP practices, local hospitals, community centres and the majority of pharmacies. We also offer a telephone support system for flexibility and can be contacted on 01743 453537.”
Anyone looking to quit can also visit www.nhs.uk/smokefree to receive a range of free support tools. The full range of Smokefree support can be accessed via the Smokefree website, and includes face-to-face advice, a Smokefree app, Quit Kit, email and text programmes.
There is also a Smokefree Facebook page to provide support to quitters during the campaign, visit www.facebook.com/NHSSmokefree.