Sunderland ex smoker has backed up a campaign encouraging people to stop smoking after recent figures have revealed staggering statistics of deaths due to cancer caused by smoking.
The campaign Quit 16, ran by stop smoking programme Fresh, comes with the warning that smoking can cause a total of 16 types of cancer and an estimated 59 deaths a week in the North East.
The campaign is supported by Maureen Naylor, from Washington, who smoked 40 cigarettes a day until she was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2012. She now relies on a valve in her neck to breathe.
Ms Naylor said: “People think ‘it won’t happen to me’ and I had exactly the same attitude. It was out there, all the adverts on the television, etcetera, but I chose to ignore them and I paid the price.
“I’ve got a stoma in my neck – it’s a hole that leads directly down into my lungs.
Andrew Lloyd, of Fresh, said that the campaign is a “brutal, hard-hitting message”.
Fresh are encouraging more people to quit smoking and are offering help and support through stop-smoking services, quitting apps and quick kits that are sent through post.
Mr Lloyd added: “It’s a big drain on the NHS which is one of the reasons why we are calling on the Government to actually make tobacco companies pay more towards the harm that smoking does.
“Every one of these deaths is a tragedy for somebody’s family. Let’s not forget that when people are getting sick and dying here in the North East, there are big multi-national companies making a lot of profit from this.”
Despite figures, the North East has seen the biggest drop in smokers nationally with rates falling from 22.3 per cent in 2013 to 19.9 per cent in 2014, according to the Office of National Statistics.
Michael Chappell, from Live Life Well Sunderland, said: “We’ve seen a lot of improvements in the North East and it does tend to drop for a number of different reasons, I think, since we’ve had the smoking ban.
“As part of the personal health plans, the Live Life Well service can deliver a holistic assessment. Part of that would be looking at people’s smoke cessation, whether that’s giving people access to patches, gum, champix but also 12 weeks worth of support.
“If people do access the service, they’re actually four times more likely to quit.”
For more information, visit www.quit16.co.uk