Keeping tabs on your health

(left to right) Judith Rees (smoking advisor for pregnancy), Andrea Sawey (health visitor) and Wendy Martindale (stop smoking advisor) with their information leaflets
(left to right) Judith Rees (smoking advisor for pregnancy), Andrea Sawey (health visitor) and Wendy Martindale (stop smoking advisor) with their information leaflets

WE’RE on a roll with our campaign to get people into shape in Olympics year.

The Hartlepool Mail’s Race For Fitness service has won the backing of yet another organisation within days of its launch.

Stockton and Hartlepool Stop Smoking Service has thrown its weight behind the project, which is encouraging as many people as possible to improve their health in 2012.

It comes at a time when one in five of Hartlepool’s population still smokes.

The town’s rate of adult smokers was 21.9 per cent in 2010/11, which is higher than the England average which is 21 per cent, according to new figures just revealed to the Mail by anti-smoking campaign group FRESH.

We want to hear from people in Hartlepool and east Durham who plan to spend this year getting into shape.

Wendy Martindale, the stop smoking specialist advisor for Stockton and Hartlepool, said: “Anything which encourages people to change their lifestyle for the better must be a good thing.

“This sounds like a good idea and will help people with their long term health by getting them to quit smoking now.”

The stop smoking service first started on No Smoking Day in 1999 and was originally funded by the Health Action Zone programme which was a Government initiative.

Sessions are now held at eight venues across Hartlepool and Wendy said: “People just come along. They don’t need to have an appointment, but they need to be checked at least half an hour before the end of the session if they are new to the sessions.

“When they first come there is a lot of paperwork.

“They come in and depending on whether they need nicotine replacement therapy it is one set of paperwork.

“If they need Champix, which is medication to help people stop smoking where they take two tablets a day, there is other paperwork and they also need to get the ok from their GP.

“We are now getting the people who are hardened smokers.

“It has been proven that it takes many attempts before you give up for good. It is all a bit hit and miss but we always need more smokers to come along.”

The Stockton and Hartlepool service has one of the best records in the country for helping people to quit cigarettes.

In 2010, it had the second best rate in the country with 1,936 people (per 100,000 population) successfully quitting.

Wendy said: “I think the stop smoking service is good because we have got so many drop-in sessions and they are informal.

“Everyone here is really friendly.”

Wendy praised the Mail’s Race For Fitness campaign, saying: “When you look at things such as hospital admissions from smoking related illnesses, it is all money spent which could be avoided.

“The Mail’s campaign has got to be a good thing.”