A disease which is prevalent among smokers is claiming the lives of about 185 South Tyneside people a year.
And today, a message went out for people to consider quitting while they can still make a difference to their health.
The call for people to pack in for New Year went out with a warning that some of the symptoms often dismissed as a “normal” part of smoking can be an early sign of lung damage.
Latest GP figures show 75,370 people were diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease in the North East in 2014-15.
In South Tyneside, 373 people died from COPD between 2012 and 2014. That’s out of 5,192 deaths across the region and it is the second highest population-adjusted rate in the region behind Sunderland and Middlesbrough. COPD is the umbrella term for serious lung conditions that include chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
People with it have difficulties breathing, mainly because of the narrowing of their airways and destruction of lung tissue. Typical symptoms include breathlessness when active, a persistent cough and frequent chest infections.
While smoking rates are coming down in South Tyneside we know that around one in five people in the Borough still smoke. Smoking is our biggest cause of ill health and diseases such as COPD can severely affect your quality of lifeCouncillor Moira Smith, South Tyneside Council’s Lead Member for Public Health and Wellbeing
Many can’t take part in everyday activities such as climbing stairs, housework or gardening; and many can’t take a holiday because of their disease.
Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, said: “COPD may not be well known but it can be a serious and severely debilitating disease, dramatically affecting people’s lives and leading to years of suffering.”
“The single best thing a smoker can do to reduce their chances of developing this devastating disease and the impact on their loved ones is to stop smoking.
“January is a time when many people make New Year’s resolutions, and resolving to stop smoking is the best thing you can do not only for your health but for the health of those around you.
“Search ‘Smokefree’ online or visit your local stop smoking service to get the help and support you need to quit smoking for good.”
Councillor Moira Smith, South Tyneside Council’s lead member for public health and wellbeing, said: “While smoking rates are coming down in South Tyneside we know that around one in five people in the borough still smoke. Smoking is our biggest cause of ill health and diseases such as COPD can severely affect your quality of life.”