Six Hartlepool people a month are dying of cancers caused by smoking.
And every week, another two smokers in the town are being added to the list of people diagnosed with the disease.
The stark news has been revealed by campaign group Fresh at the start of a new hard-hitting campaign to encourage smokers to quit.
And it comes with an in-depth look at cancer statistics for the area – as well as detailed figures for the town.
They show smoking caused an estimated 3,077 new cases of cancer and 2,192 deaths from cancer in the North East in 2013.
For Hartlepool, smoking caused 74 deaths from cancer and 105 new cases of cancer in 2013.
Besides lung cancer, smoking also causes cancers of the mouth, nasal cavities, pharynx and larynx, stomach, kidney, bowel, liver, pancreas, cervix, bladder and ovaries, oesophagus and ureter, as well as myeloid leukaemia[ii].
Worryingly, a survey of North East smokers found over 34% could not name one cancer caused by smoking – unless they were prompted.
But help is at hand and people can find out more about local support and free quitting tools to download at Quit16.co.uk
Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, said: “Most of us know about lung cancer, but it’s worrying how few people are aware that poisons in smoke attack so many different parts of the body, whether they smoke cigarettes or roll-ups.
We are urging anyone who smokes to think how their family would cope if it was them and make 2016 their year to make a new start. Quitting might not always be easy, but continuing to smoke is often much, much harderAilsa Rutter, director of Fresh
“We are urging anyone who smokes to think how their family would cope if it was them and make 2016 their year to make a new start. Quitting might not always be easy, but continuing to smoke is often much, much harder.”
Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK’s head of health and patient information, said: “The best thing smokers can do is give up – for their own health as well as their friends’ and family’s. Quitting can be extremely difficult, but it greatly reduces the risk of smoking-related cancers, as well as other illness such as heart and lung disease.”
Dr Tony Branson, Medical Director – Cancer, for NHS England’s Northern England Strategic Clinical Networks, said: “Every cigarette pumps thousands of harmful chemicals into the lungs, and around the body. Many of these are known to damage DNA, stick to cells, harm cell repair and cause cancer.”
On the plus side, the North East had the largest drop in smokers nationwide between 2013-14 and the biggest fall over the past decade.
But about 416,000 people still smoke in the region, costing the NHS £88.8m a year, the regional economy £37.5m and local authorities £37m in social care costs.
To find out more about quitting, contact the Tees NHS Stop Smoking Service on (01642) 383819 or ask at your GP surgery or pharmacy.