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It's No Smoking Day - never give up on quitting!




With just a week to go until No Smoking Day on Wednesday 14 March, Fresh is encouraging smokers to give quitting another go – and try to quit at least once a year until you stop for good.


The call comes as new figures suggest smokers in the North East are making more successful quit attempts than elsewhere in the country.


The figures come from the Smoking Toolkit Study from University College London, which shows that in the past 10 years in the North East, around 18.3% of people who tried to quit smoking were still not smoking, compared with 15.7% of people nationally. The figures for 2017 were 19.7% versus 17.7%.


Fresh is also encouraging people who've struggled to quit so far to consider switching completely to an e-cigarette – significantly less harmful than smoking and now the most popular way to quit smoking in the UK. Whether or not smokers use an e-cigarette they are strongly advised to get support from their local Stop Smoking Service.


Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, said: "We are urging smokers to never give up on quitting. It is great to see the figures showing smokers in the North East have a better chance at quitting – and we have had the biggest fall in smoking since 2005, but we're also suggesting some of the most effective ways to stop.


"Some people do manage to quit first time – but for most it takes many attempts. Don't get disheartened if you didn't quit first time, and don't tell yourself you can't do it. You can come back more determined and better prepared next time."


The Smoking Toolkit study is co-ordinated by Prof Robert West, Professor of Health Psychology and Director of Tobacco Studies, University College London.


Prof West said: "Every smoker should have a go at stopping smoking at least once a year and No Smoking Day is a great opportunity to do this. Our research tells us that the best chance of success is by doing it all in one go rather than by trying to cut down gradually, and to use the Local Stop Smoking Service.


"The North East has seen a higher quit success rate. If we can encourage more smokers in the North East to have a go at stopping we could see huge reductions in smoking rates."


James' story.




67-year-old James Degnen is reflecting how he was given the choice of continuing to smoke or losing a leg. James faced a stark choice when he had to undergo major vascular surgery for blocked veins in his legs – quit smoking or lose a leg. He quit using an e-cigarette, along with his wife Rita and says it was the "best decision he's ever made".   He said: "I had tried to quit smoking a number of times over the years but I'd always struggled and found that other nicotine replacements didn't work.


"My brother-in-law suggested I try e-cigarettes and they have made a huge difference to me. I used the menthol refills and found that they replaced the need for cigarettes, to the point where I now don't think about having a cigarette at all."


Laraine's story




Laraine McLoskey from South Shields, quit smoking after a heart attack in March 2017 completely changed her life.


Laraine said: "I was a smoker for 40 years, 20 a day typically. I'd tried to quit and failed many times over the years. I thought I was fairly healthy as outwardly I looked fairly healthy. I had been suffering from chest pains for a while but put it down to indigestion and didn't think too much about it.


"Over time the pains got increasingly worse and in March last year, I suffered a heart attack and had to undergo surgery to insert a stent. That moment wasthe biggest turning point for me. I stopped smoking there and then and haven't touched a cigarette since."


Louise's story




Louise Morris, 41, from Newcastle, quit smoking ten years ago. One of her main motivations to stop was her young daughter, Leah, now 12-years-old, as she wanted to be fit enough to do things with her family.


She said: "I tried to quit smoking a few times after people kept telling me to quit, but found it really difficult.  I also wanted to make sure I was fit and healthy to enjoy quality time with my family.


"It was difficult to quit at first, but it gradually got easier and I had fantastic support from a stop smoking group which met at my local church. They gave me patches to help me to quit and I used them for a while until I went away for a weekend and my routine changed. I forgot to put a patch on one day and discovered that I no longer needed them. Since then I haven't looked back.


"When I first quit one of the first things I noticed was I had more energy. I gradually felt healthier and could breathe more easily, as I had previously struggled to push Leah's pram up the street without being out of breath. Since quitting my health has definitely improved, and I've got a better sense of taste and smell." 


Some of the ways to quit Fresh is recommending include:

Stop Smoking Services – with expert specialist help smokers are up to four times more likely to quit, or ask your GP or pharmacist.

Switching to e-cigarettes.  There is growing evidence that e-cigarettes can help people stop smoking and using an e-cigarette can help you manage your nicotine cravings . E-cigs are estimated to be 95% less harmful than smoking. Refillable "tank" system e-cigarettes are regarded as more effective and end up being cheaper than the discardable ones that look like cigarettes. Specialist e-cigarette retailers can provide advice.

Using a quitting cessation aid like nicotine patches or a stop smoking medicine. Cigarettes contain nicotine which your body becomes dependent on. Stop smoking medicines can help you manage withdrawal symptoms. Most health problems are caused by other components in tobacco smoke, not by the nicotine.

Get support from family and friends – their support can go a long way. If your partner smokes, why not quit together?


There are a range of tools online such as the Smokefree App, email and text support from NHS Smokefree. Or call the National Smokefree Helpline on 0300 123 1044.