Following the launch of the ‘Year of Action on Cancer’ campaign last week and ahead of national No Smoking Day (Wednesday 14th March), NHS Merseyside is raising awareness of the region’s innovative smoking cessation services with the support of one local resident who has stubbed out her last cigarette for good.
Latest figures released by the NHS reveal that cancer is the biggest cause of death in all parts of Merseyside, with new cases of lung cancer being higher than the national average and almost twice the national rate in Liverpool and Knowsley.*
In light of these latest statistics, NHS Merseyside has launched the ‘Year of Action on Cancer’ campaign to raise awareness of cancer prevention and service innovation across Merseyside and Cheshire, including the regions smoking cessation services which have already helped 16,479 Merseyside residents kick the habit last year.**
Mum of two, Claire Watkinson, 40, is one local resident who has quit smoking following the help of SUPPORT Stop Smoking Service for Halton & St Helens, a free stop smoking service available to local residents across the area. Claire from Newton –le-Willows had smoked 30 cigarettes a day since she was 18 and stubbed out her last cigarette 10 months ago following encouragement from her 11 year old son.
She said: “I’d smoked heavily for about 22 years and had tried to give up smoking a number of times in the past, but it wasn’t until my son, Drew, came home from school very upset having learnt about cancer and the dangers of smoking that I knew I had to quit for good.
“Having tried to quit on my own previously I visited my local GP who referred me to the SUPPORT Stop Smoking Service for Halton & St Helens who not only gave me advice and encouragement from others in the same boat on a weekly basis, but also offered me free Nicorette patches and the opportunity to visit additional drop in sessions throughout the week. Stopping smoking has made a real difference to my life. When I was trying to quit, I used walking as an alternative to having a cigarette, this was a great distraction and helped with my fitness, which has significantly improved.
“My children are so happy that I’ve quit for good. Quitting smoking was hard, but my advice for anyone considering it would be to give it a try and take advantage of the help which is available, it definitely worked for me. I tried going cold turkey, but I’m a person that does need support, so give the smoking services a try and see for yourself.”
Heading up the ‘Year of Action on Cancer’ campaign, Gideon Ben-Tovim, Chair of NHS Merseyside, said: “With Merseyside’s incidence of new cases of lung cancer and mortality rate being higher than the national average, the launch of the ‘Year of Action on Cancer’ campaign and national No Smoking Day give us a great opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of early detection of cancer and the innovative free smoking cessation services that are available to residents in the region.
“With lung cancer being the most prevalent form of cancer in the region, we are committed to supporting residents like Claire turn to a smoke-free lifestyle and provide a range of services that will really work in helping people quit for good.”
As part of No Smoking Day, NHS Merseyside have a wide range of free smoking cessation service which are tailored to each individuals needs, whether it be face to face contact with stop-smoking advisors, or regular text messages and phone contact to help keep up quitters motivation. So, if you’re thinking about quitting this year, why not take advantage of the free service available, including Merseyside’s range of community and work based stop smoking services or for advice and stop smoking products, why not visit your local pharmacist who is trained to offer advice and information on the range of support available in your region.
For more information please visit your local NHS website for information about free smoking cessation services.