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Aims of the Gateshead Smokefree Alliance

The Smokefree Alliance partners are committed to keeping all aspects of Tobacco Control on the agenda in Gateshead.


Partners work to ensure that young people are protected from the harms associated with second-hand smoke, that smokers are offered excellent stop smoking support services and that retailers are reminded of their responsibilities with regard to under age sales.


We aim through education, enforcement and health promotion to reduce the number of smokers in Gateshead and to protect our future generations.


Recent Campaigns

Gateshead Council warns smokers of eyesight damage

Smokers in Gateshead are being made aware of the potential risk to their eyesight, through a new Gateshead Council campaign supported by the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB).


For years, cigarette packets have carried health warnings linking cigarettes to heart disease, cancer and harm to unborn babies.  Now, local eye specialists are also raising awareness of the impacts of smoking on sight loss.


The most common form of sight loss caused by smoking is age-related macular degeneration (AMD) - one of the UK's leading causes of sight loss.  The link between smoking and AMD is reportedly as strong as the link between smoking and lung cancer.  Some areas of the North East show some of the highest rates in the country of sight loss due to age-related macular degeneration


Sarah Townsend, North East representative for the College of Optometrists and optometrist at Summers Opticians in Low Fell, is supporting the campaign locally.  She said, “There are many thousands of smokers who have no idea that smoking can severely destroy your vision.  The chemicals affect blood vessels throughout the body, and one of the secondary effects is that they slowly damage the tissues of the eye. The result can mean that daily tasks such as driving, reading and recognising faces can be affected.”


Director of Public Health at Gateshead Council, Carole Wood, said, “Local GP’s collect information about the smoking status of their patients. A recent report shows that 95 percent of Gateshead patients with long- term conditions, such as AMD, are smokers.

“Stopping smoking can significantly reduce disease, early death and sight loss.  It is a priority for us to support quitters and raise awareness of the potential harms to help smokers make their own decisions about stopping and deter young people from starting.”


Smoking also increases the risk of developing other eye problems such as cataracts - a major cause of sight loss in the UK, and can make diabetic related sight problems worse. 

Helen May, Optometrist and Eye Health Advisor for the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), said:  "Smoking is a clear risk factor, with smokers twice as likely to develop AMD than non-smokers. Studies show that stopping smoking can reduce your risk of developing AMD. We urge people to be aware of the early signs of wet AMD. Anyone who is experiencing changes to their vision such as straight lines appearing wavy or curved should visit their optometrist immediately."


People in Gateshead can get help to stop smoking at local GP practices and pharmacies.  Services offer a 12 week support programme, which can include evening and weekends, with access to nicotine replacement therapy at prescription prices. 

Contact 0800 531 6317 for information on local services