Hartlepool smokers told ‘how would you feel if your family had to cope without you?’

Ailsa Rutter
Ailsa Rutter

A HARD-HITTING campaign will ask Hartlepool’s smokers -“how would you feel if your family had to cope without you”.

Smokers in Hartlepool are underestimating the risks of their habit, a new report has indicated. It showed one in every two long-term smokers will die early, including people in their 40s.

The message is part of the “Don’t be the 1” campaign from Fresh, which urged the North East’s 460,000 smokers to quit and live longer for their loved ones.

A survey by Fresh found:

• Nine out of 10 smokers seriously underestimate their risks of dying of a smoking related illness, with some thinking only 1 in 20 smokers would die.

• More than six out of 10 smokers say their family worry about them smoking.

• Eight out of ten wish they had never started.

• Sixty eight per cent want smoking to become a thing of the past for future generations.

Fresh director Ailsa Rutter said: “Quitting might not always be easy but dying from a smoking related disease is much harder. Quitting lowers your risk of dying early at any age, but the sooner you quit, the better.

“There are over 4000 smoking related deaths every year in the North East and each one tears apart a family. People get in touch with us suffering from diseases to say they wish they had quit sooner, or to tell us about loved ones who have died.”

Councillor Carl Richardson, chair of Hartlepool’s Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “If you’re smoker, you may think ‘it will never happen to me’ but these grim figures on the amount of deaths and diseases caused by smoking tell a very different story.

“You are not only gambling with your own life, you are risking the future of your loved ones as well. How will your husband, wife or children manage if you are not around to look after them?

“Think of all the emotional pain and hardship it would cause them and please quit before it’s too late.”

Meanwhile, anti-smoking campaigners were handed a further boost when MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of introducing a ban on people smoking in cars where children are.

The measure, which could be turned into a new law, was approved by 376 votes to 107 - a majority of 269.

Anyone who would like to quit smoking or send a message to a loved one to quit can click on DontBeThe1 or call the NHS Stop Smoking Service on (01642) 383819.