Smokers give up the weed

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A RECORD number of people in the North East have successfully kicked their smoking habit using NHS Stop Smoking Services.

New figures from the NHS Information Centre revealed that 26,038 people quit smoking from March 2010 to April 2011 after attending Fresh (Smoke Free North East) support sessions across the region.

This amount was 553 more than in the previous 12 months — an increase of 2.2 per cent.

The number of people in the region attempting to stop is also on the rise, as the 58,660 quit attempts was up 4.3 per cent on 2009/2010.

Northumberland’s Stop Smoking Service Manager Alison Nichol said: “As well as the obvious health problems caused by smoking, such as cancers, COPD, heart disease and stroke, we are seeing more and more people wanting to quit because of financial pressures — the actual cost of smoking is an increasingly important factor in the decision to quit.

“We are certainly hearing people commenting more and more on the cost of cigarettes. One lady said to me that she’d realised that if she stopped smoking for a week, she could pay her gas and electric bills for a month.”

The North East NHS Stop Smoking Services also achieved the highest number of quitters per population size of any Strategic Health Authority in the country — 1,225 per 100,000 people compared to the national average of 911.

Director of Fresh Ailsa Rutter said: “Quitting smoking is a terrific achievement. Cigarettes are unbelievably addictive and it can take a few goes to kick the habit for good, but having the right advice and support from the NHS advisors makes a massive difference.

“It is fantastic to see such big rise in quit attempts within the region as well.”

For more information about the Northumberland NHS Stop Smoking Service telephone 01670 813135.