The message is that there has never been a better time to quit. Thinking about the many health and lifestyle benefits is an excellent way to motivate giving up. Quitting smoking can:
- improve your breathing and general fitness
- enhance enjoyment of the taste of food
- significantly improve the appearance of your skin and teeth
- protect the health of those around you by not exposing them to second-hand smoke
- save you a great deal of money
The long term benefits are immense. Quitting reduces the risk of developing illness, disability or death caused by cancer, heart or lung disease. After 5 years the risk of a heart attack is half of that of a smoker, after 10 years the risk falls to the same as someone who has never smoked.
Many smokers continue to smoke not by choice, but because they are addicted to nicotine. A recent report concluded that nicotine was as addictive as drugs such as heroin and cocaine.
Although quitting is never easy, help is at hand. Smokefreelife Berkshire (www.smokefreelifeberkshire.co.uk) is a free personalised service offering advice for people wanting to quit smoking. The service provides 12 weeks support, 1:1 motivational and group work support with a professionally qualified smoking cessation advisor, and free nicotine replacement therapy.
The Council commissioned service is available in local shops and venues across town, including Broad Street Mall, many Reading GP surgeries and pharmacies.
Sarah Gould, 49, an ex-smoker from Reading, praised the support on offer from Smokefreelife Berkshire and recommended it to people struggling to quit. She said: “My husband Mark had tried and failed many times to become a non-smoker. I had never tried, using the excuse ‘when you do I will’.
“Mark was really trying to become a non-smoker and was doing ok but it was tough for him with me still smoking, albeit in the garden. We discussed how we wanted our future lives to be, and agreed ‘as healthy as possible’.
“We had a meeting together with Oliver from Smokefreelife Berkshire and I gave up smoking the very next day, after having puffed my way through four ciggies before the meeting, I must have stunk! I had a reading on the carbon monoxide breath machine of 31 – which is off the scale!
“Twelve weeks later, I have proved to myself, my husband, my family and to Oliver that I have achieved my goal of becoming a non-smoker – I believe for life.”
Cllr Graeme Hoskin, Reading’s Lead Member for Health, said:
“January is the ideal time to make quitting a New Year’s Resolution. Stopping smoking can significantly reduce a person’s risk for disease and early death and there are known benefits for quitting at any age, in other words, it’s never too late to stop.
“There are many people in Reading struggling to kick the habit. I urge them to visit one of the many service hubs in Reading, call 0800 622 6360, text QUIT to 66777 or visit www.smokefreelifeberkshire.co.uk.”
Estimated smoking prevalence in Reading has reduced from 20.6% in 2012 to 15.8% in 2016 however it remains the second highest prevalence of smoking in Berkshire. Nationally smoking remains the single largest cause of preventable deaths.
In 2016/17, 833 Reading residents were supported to a 4 week quit and 499 to 12 weeks. Of these, a number of residents were a part of local target groups for example 73 people had diabetes, 50 people were pre-operative, 21 were under 18 and 19 were pregnant women.