Town is leading way in quitting smoking

Clare Marsh pictured with daughter Olivia.

Clare Marsh pictured with daughter Olivia.

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HARTLEPOOL was today revealed as one of England’s best towns for people packing in cigarettes.

More than 1,400 town people quit smoking in the last year and it puts Hartlepool second in the country for levels of quitters per population size.

The town successes include Clare Marsh, 29, a specialist therapy assistant at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, who stopped smoking when she was pregnant with her daughter Olivia.

The mum from the King Oswy Drive area of town was once a 15-cigarette-a-day smoker.

She said she put the £35-a-week she would have spent on cigarettes into a jar so that she and partner Gavin Whitehead, 31, Olivia’s dad, could buy all of Olivia’s nursery furniture, clothes, and toys.

“It feels so good knowing I’m doing something good for someone else,” said Clare. “It really helped seeing the money being saved like that. It definitely kept me going.”

The North-East had the best record in the country in the last year with an average of 1,225 quitters per 100,000 people compared to 911 quitters nationally.

In Hartlepool, the figure is even higher with 1,411 people packing in.

It meant a 0.5 per cent rise in town quitters between March 2010 and April 2011 compared to the previous 12 months.

Clare said Olivia, now aged one, was “starting to walk”. She added: “Because I don’t smoke, I don’t have any worries about keeping up with her.

“I walk for miles with Olivia in her buggy. I am loads fitter than I used to be.”

Ailsa Rutter, director of the regional anti-smoking group FRESH, said: “The Stop Smoking Service in the North-East makes a huge difference for people. Those who use the services on offer are four times more likely to succeed in stopping smoking than if they try to go it alone.”

Pat Marshall, manager of Stockton and Hartlepool NHS Stop Smoking Service, said: “As well as the obvious health problems caused by smoking, such as cancers, heart disease, and stroke, we are seeing more people wanting to quit because of financial pressures.

“We are certainly hearing people commenting on the cost of cigarettes.”