MORE than 200 people are expected to die from smoking-related diseases in Hartlepool this year.
Shocking figures show the town has the highest rate of smokers in the region, the second highest rate of hospital admissions and smoking related deaths are significantly higher than the national average.
And a new study shows their families are worried sick at the prospect, with 68 per cent of smokers saying their family worry about them smoking.
On the eve of a new campaign to encourage people to quit, the town’s legacy of decades of smoking has been revealed.
Latest smoking-related figures show:
• Hartlepool has the highest rate of smokers of any part of the North-East - with 28.2 per cent of the population aged 18 and over as smokers.
• It has the second worst percentage in the region for the numbers of people dying from strokes and heart disease. Around 13 people a year are dying from strokes and more than 40 from heart disease.
• It also has the second worst rate in the region for hospital admissions, with more than 2,300 admitted each year.
• Its death rate from smoking-related illnesses from 2010/12 is 360 people compared to the national average of 291.
The figures come ahead of the new television campaign launched by the anti-smoking group Fresh. The Don’t be the 1 TV advert starts tomorrow and Fresh is urging the North East’s 460,000 smokers to quit and be around longer for their loved-ones.
Fresh director Ailsa Rutter said: “It’s not really surprising to find that an increasing number of smokers in our region are being told by a friend or relative that they worry about what smoking is doing to their health and that they wish they’d stop.
“With more than 5,500 people dying every year from a host of smoking-related diseases, there are still too many families, including young children, who are having to come to terms with losing someone they love to an addictive product.
“Quitting might not always be easy – but if you stop now you lower your risk of dying early at any age.
“This is why we are encouraging everyone who smokes to make a real effort to quit before it’s too late, because they have parents, partners, children, grandchildren who love them, worry about them and want them to be there for the future.”
Jeanette Draffan, a Macmillan lung cancer nurse specialist at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It is hard to sit someone down and tell them they have a smoking related disease, especially when that disease is lung cancer and may be terminal or take many years off their lives.
“Sadly we have to deliver bad news like this to patients every week.
“For anyone thinking about quitting, I would urge them to picture themselves waiting for the test results and what it would feel like having to tell their family.
“It is sometimes said that quitting smoking is hard, but not quitting is much, much harder. Stopping smoking reduces the risk of developing lung cancer and other cancers. I would encourage smokers to access the smoking cessation services.”