WITH a packet of cigarettes so expensive these days it’s surprising that anyone can afford to smoke.
Yet there are still eight million smokers in the UK in spite of the recession and the gory pictures put on cigarette packets to act as a deterrent (do smokers even pay attention to them any more?).
Now a nationwide campaign run by the NHS has begun in an attempt to covert an army of smokers into non-smokers this month.
Stoptober is a mass 28-day stop smoking challenge.
In Staffordshire, 19 per cent of people – around 130,000 – still smoke and it remains the nation’s biggest killer with half of long-term smokers dying prematurely from a smoking disease.
Figures relating to lung cancer show that, in East Staffordshire, 188 people were diagnosed over two years between 2008 and 2010. The data also shows that the incidence of lung cancer continues to increase amongst women, whilst dropping for men.
Burton woman Kim Brown has smoked for 38 years and is now trying to quit. She said: “I first stopped five years ago. I started again in December when I developed alopecia universallis (hair loss) but would love to stop again.”
This year’s Stoptober campaign comes as new research shows the extra years of life that can be gained by giving up smoking – with someone who quits smoking for Stoptober and doesn’t smoke again gaining up extra seven days of life, every 28 days, for the rest of their life.
Robbie Marshall, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “Research shows that people who can give up smoking for 28 days are five times more likely to quit for good.
“Half of all smokers die from smoking-related illnesses, so if you are thinking of giving up then this is just the time to do so. Not only is not smoking good for your health, but it also good for your family and friends who may breathe in the smoke.
“Here in Staffordshire, we are committed to helping people live healthier lives and giving up smoking is something which really can make a difference to a person’s life.”
Apart from with the health benefits, quitting saves the average smoker more than £150 a month and almost £2,000 a year.
Dr Lola Abudu, a consultant for Public Health England West Midlands, said: “We are seeing worrying levels of smoking among women, which is clearly having an impact on their health and reported cases of lung cancer. Smoking is one of the main causes of lung cancer, and survival rates are very poor. Less than a third of people diagnosed with lung cancer will survive the first year and only eight per cent will still be alive five years later.
“Incidence rates of lung cancer vary considerably across the West Midlands. In Staffordshire alone we see incredible differences, with people in the Stoke-on-Trent City Council area experiencing the highest rate, at 61 people with cancer registrations per 100,000 of population, while some of the lowest rates of cancer are found in the area covered by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, with 28.9 cancer registrations per 100,000 of population.”
To mark the start of Stoptober, 28 individually designed ‘Stop’ disks are appearing across the country. Each Stoptober disk has been inspired by the motivations of different quitters and a number of celebrity supporters.
Though October has already begun, it is not too late for people to ditch the fags. For more information and to order a free resources pack search ‘Stoptober’ online or visit smokefree.nhs.uk/stoptober