FRESH is encouraging smokers across the North East to quit this winter as well getting the vital vaccines which are saving lives.
It comes as an increasing number of vaccine hubs across the region will be handing out information to help people quit to reduce the additional risks of smoking with infectious diseases such as Covid and flu, as well as from diseases such as COPD, 16 types of cancer, heart disease and stroke.
The NHS Long Term Plan has committed that all people admitted to hospital who smoke will be offered NHS-funded tobacco treatment services.
Smoking harms the lungs and immune system which means greater risks from respiratory diseases if you smoke:
- Covid: a study in Thorax shows even light smokers (less than 9 cigarettes a day) are twice as likely to die from COVID. The risk is more than 5-fold among moderate smokers, and more than 6-fold among heavy smokers.
- Flu: smokers are five times more likely to develop influenza than non-smokers and flu symptoms may also be worse among smokers.[ii] Quitting smoking gives people a boost to their immune system, making it easier to fight off colds and flu.
- Pneumonia: smokers are twice as likely to get pneumonia compared to non-smokers and have an increased chance of suffering pneumonia after surgery.[iii]
Dr Ruth Sharrock is a respiratory consultant and Clinical Lead on Tobacco for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System and said: “We know vaccines save lives, but stopping smoking is also one of the most important things anyone can do to stay out of hospital and get better quicker if they are in hospital.
“Smoking kills around 15 people in the North East every day and I see patients in their 40s and 50s whose lives are cut tragically short from smoking. Their last few months are usually full of regret they didn’t quit sooner. We also see how patients with smoking related diseases such as lung cancer and COPD are also more vulnerable to Covid.
“Every cigarette smoked is cutting someone’s life shorter and putting more pressure on the NHS. We need to do everything we can as health professionals and medics to help smokers quit this winter.”
Ailsa Rutter OBE, Director of Fresh and Balance, said: “The benefits of quitting smoking are so many – from improving health, being around longer for your family, reducing stress and anxiety and having more money.
“Even if you have tried before, you can do it again. If you’re still smoking, it is incredibly important to give quitting a go, especially as the winter approaches. Stopping smoking brings important health benefits at any age.”
For help to quit ask in a pharmacy, with your GP or search – ‘Smokefree’.