Smokers in Northumberland are being urged to quit the habit to reduce the risk of developing a disease.
A new campaign by Fresh, called ‘Every Breath’, is raising awareness of smoking and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
COPD is the UK’s fifth biggest killer, is mainly caused by smoking and feeling breathless is an early sign, with an estimated 8,982 people in Northumberland believed to be living with it.
Smoking is the single biggest cause of the condition, responsible for around 80 per cent of cases.
Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, said: “COPD is a disease that too many smokers are not aware of until they are diagnosed, but research suggests that more than a quarter of smokers will develop it.
“Those figures are truly alarming, especially when so many people who smoke do suffer from early warning signs like feeling short of breath but dismiss them as a “normal” part of smoking.
“Not being able to breathe properly is something nobody wants to happen to them,
“When we ran this campaign in 2011 thousands of people quit as a result which is why we are running it again – it is never too late to quit smoking and it is the best way to reduce the risk.”
Dr Stephen Bourke, consultant respiratory physician and lead for COPD at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Smoking is the biggest cause of COPD and every cigarette smoked is damaging the lungs further.
“COPD can also make everyday activities such as walking upstairs, shopping or doing housework difficult.
“It is vital anyone with the early warning signs of feeling out of breath quits before they get to that stage.”
Brenda Warner, manager of Northumberland NHS Stop Smoking Service, said: “While some people do manage to quit first time, not succeeding and trying again is often part and parcel of the quitting process for others. We want to let Northumberland smokers know they are always welcome back.
“People should never think about failed quit attempts as a failure – every cigarette you didn’t smoke was a success.
“And the good news is people who use their local NHS Stop Smoking Service are four times more likely to quit smoking.”
Dr Penny Woods, chief executive, British Lung Foundation, said: “Any campaign that raises awareness of lung conditions and the steps people can take to prevent them is welcome.
“We know that smoking is a key factor in developing lung disease, especially COPD and lung cancer. Giving up smoking with the help of NHS quit smoking services is a great first step in preventing further lung damage, it’s never too late!”
Anyone who feels breathless doing everyday tasks should consider taking the BLF’s online breath test www.blf.org.uk/breathtest to see if they need to see a doctor.
Every Breath will run for five weeks and will be supported by TV advertising backed by musician Sting, and an online breathing exercise where people can experience what it feels like to suffer from COPD.
Sting, who is originally from Wallsend, said: “Many people across the UK are affected by lung damage and other smoking related illnesses, particularly in the north east where I grew up.
“I’m pleased to support a programme which works towards giving people the motivation and support they need to quit.”
To get your quit attempt underway, call Northumberland NHS Stop Smoking Service on 01670 813 135, or ask at your GP surgery or pharmacy.