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Children ask smokers to quit in moving new health campaign film

Article date - 06 January 2017

St Helens Council and its partner agency Smokefree St Helens have welcomed a new campaign by Public Health England (PHE) that highlights the damaging effect smoking has on the heart.

The campaign has launched as it is revealed that 45 people a day die of cardiovascular disease (CVD) caused by smoking - over 16,500 a year in England.

One in five adults in St Helens smoke and two in five are ex-smokers. CVD includes all diseases of the heart and circulation - including heart attacks and strokes. The disease is one of the main causes of death and disability in the country and quitting has been identified as the single best thing a smoker can do to protect their heart.

CVD is usually associated with the build-up of fatty deposits clogging up the arteries, known as atherosclerosis, that can block the flow of blood to vital organs and eventually cause fatal heart attacks and strokes. Smoking increases the risk of heart disease by a quarter (24%)2 and doubles the risk of heart attack or stroke.

The latest hard hitting campaign from PHE coincides with the first year when all cigarettes sold in the UK will be in standard packs with all attractive branding removed. The packs, which will be mandatory from May, feature graphic picture and text health warnings, several of which illustrate how smoking causes cardiovascular disease and death.

Public Health England insights show that the two biggest motivators for smokers to quit are for their health and their families. PHE has released a new emotive short film featuring children’s TV doctor Dr Ranj working with primary school children in Coventry, to create their own heartfelt messages about the dangers of smoking. The messages, inspired by the introduction of standard packs, focus on the damage smoking does to the heart and circulatory system.

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, said:

“Smoking is the biggest cause of premature death in England, accounting for almost 78,000 deaths a year. For every death caused by smoking approximately 20 smokers suffer from a smoking-related illness7.

Councillor Richard McCauley, cabinet member for public health and wellbeing, said:

“Smoking robs you of your health and your income. However, you can change this. Stopping smoking will have a dramatic positive impact on your health and the health of those around you, especially children, and is the single best health decision you can make this new year.”

“Smoking related illness still kills more people in St Helens than many other areas in England. The more people that quit, the healthier local communities become and savings could boost the local economy.”

Julie Tipton, Manager for Smokefree St Helens said:

“There has never been a better time to quit. Research shows the majority of smokers want to quit and your local smokefree service can support you to achieve this through friendly, expert advice and support. It doesn’t matter if you have visited them before but it didn’t quite work out, you can access support as many times as you need.

“You don’t need to go through your quit journey alone. As well as using St Helens Smokefree support, you could join together with friends, family and colleagues to support each other through your quit attempt.”

Dr Ranj Singh (pictured), TV (ITV's This Morning) and NHS doctor said:

“The new film featuring primary school children really brings home the damage that smoking does to your cardiovascular system. Most people are well aware of the effects of smoking on the lungs, but are less aware of the awful impact it also has on the heart and arteries. We know that many people quit smoking for their family, and this film shows just how passionately children want to protect the health of smokers and want to help them quit.”

The campaign launches on the 30 December with TV and digital advertising showing NHS Smokefree ‘Rotten Roll-up’ and ‘Mutations’ adverts, which highlight the serious damage that cigarettes can cause. The campaign encourages smokers to search ‘Smokefree’ online for free quitting support and tools.

Find the stop smoking service that suits you best by calling 01744 586247, texting QUIT to 61825, visiting www.readytostopsmoking.co.uk or dropping in to the Smokefree St Helens Hub, Hardshaw Centre, town centre.