HUGE numbers of people have quit smoking since a campaign highlighting COPD first hit the North-East.
Figures from the NHS Information Centre have been revealed by local NHS Stop Smoking Services for October to December 2012. They show:
● A 17 per cent increase in people setting quit dates through NHS Stop Smoking Services in the North-East – compared to a 2.9 per cent rise nationally.
● A 21 per cent increase in people making it successfully to week four of their quit attempt compared to a 3.1 per cent rise nationally.
● The North-East NHS Stop Smoking Services as a whole outperforming all other regions.
Experts say the region’s success is down to a campaign called Every Breath which was first launched last autumn to encourage people to quit.
A survey following the campaign also found more than two thirds of North-East smokers said it made them more likely to quit after seeing it.
Ailsa Rutter, director of FRESH, said: “The Every Breath campaign has been a real wake up call to many smokers. It was news to many people who thought that being short of breath was normal, when in many cases it is an early sign of COPD and it makes quitting even more urgent.
“We’ve had so much positive feedback from people who said the hard hitting, factual approach gave them the reason they needed to quit smoking and have made the decision to run it again, based on the campaign’s proven track record of results.
“We want to help encourage people to quit smoking with the hard facts, as well as stopping young people from taking up smoking in the first place.”
The North-East has the highest prevalence in England of COPD, a disease where the lungs are destroyed.
Eighty per cent of COPD cases are caused by smoking and sufferers describe the later stages as feeling like they are choking or suffocating.
Around 8,700 people were diagnosed with the condition in 2008-09, but it is estimated that around 32,000 more people in the North-East have the disease but have never been diagnosed.
Pat Marshall, service manager at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust’s stop smoking service, said: “If you’re a smoker and you want to quit, you can access our stop smoking service now for support where you’re up to four times more likely to succeed than by going it alone. Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do to improve your health.
“The last Every Breath campaign was a great success and encouraged many smokers in our area to come forward and try to quit with our expert help.”