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"Ditch or switch" this Christmas to save money and improve health


Quitting could pay for a trip to Lapland by this time next year 


People who smoke in the North East are being encouraged to ditch tobacco or at least make the switch to an e-cigarette in the run up to Christmas to save money and improve health.


Fresh is encouraging people to make 2017 the year they go smoke-free and for smokers not quite ready to take the leap, to try switching to an e-cig instead of smoking during the Christmas party season.


While quitting completely is best, switching to an e-cig is estimated to be 95% safer than smoking and can save smokers thousands of pounds over the course of a year. A major barrier to some smokers making the switch to e-cigs is the initial start-up costs. However, it's estimated that by making the switch to one of the more effective e-cigs, smokers can spend just 10% of what they used to on tobacco.


The best proven effective way to quit smoking remains through licensed stop smoking medication and support from free local Stop Smoking Services, but all stop smoking services in the North East welcome people using their own electronic cigarettes to stop.


Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, said: "Christmas is a time when a lot of people are out letting their hair down and enjoying themselves. However, the excesses of the festive season can lead to some people smoking more and really regretting it.


"Most smokers would like to be able to quit and we're urging everyone to give it another go for New Year. Every pack of tobacco cigarettes can lead to a mutation which can cause cancer, so every pack of cigarettes you don't smoke is doing you good.


"There is no need for cold turkey at Christmas or the New Year. Stop smoking services can provide really effective support and products to ease the cravings. And a good starting point could be switching to an e-cig in time for the Christmas party season and avoiding temptation to smoke."


By quitting or switching to a quality refillable e-cigarette model, people who smoke 15 cigarettes a day could save around:

  • £47 a week – which could pay for a Star Wars Remote Control BB-8 toy and a DVD.
  • £205 a month – the cost of a PlayStation4 games console.
  • £616 over three months – the equivalent of travel and a one-night stay for a family of four to London with a visit to the Harry Potter studio, plus an evening meal out.
  • £1,233 in six months – a four-night holiday for a family of four to Disneyland Paris next Christmas.
  • £2,467 in one year – which would cover the cost of a family day trip (2 adults and 2 children) to meet Santa Claus in Lapland plus a husky and reindeer ride for Christmas 2017.


There's a range of support available to people across the region who are keen to take their first steps towards going smoke-free.


Gateshead Council's Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Mary Foy said: "Many people will be thinking about quitting smoking for the New Year and it's important that everyone knows there is a lot of support out there to help them do this. There are so many benefits and it's not just the health impact, although that is massive. People can give themselves a pay rise by quitting smoking which can be spent on lots of nicer things. We would like to encourage people to give it a go, stay positive and believe they can stop smoking for good."


Cllr Jane Streather, Newcastle City Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health and Housing, said: "We know the New Year is a key time for people making changes to their lifestyle and is a great time to quit smoking.


"There is a variety of support across Newcastle offering varied ways for you to quit, our Stop Smoking Service is always on hand to help you find the most suitable option and support you on your quitting journey. We would encourage people to stop smoking in the New Year, the health benefits of quitting are just the beginning, you can save money by stopping smoking and can treat you and your family in 2017."


Rachel Nichol, Service Manager for Newcastle Stop Smoking Service, said: "At Lifeline we are here to help any smoker in Newcastle to quit smoking all throughout the year, but we know that the New Year marks the opportunity for many to start afresh, with a New Year's resolution to quit. With our help now you can start to prepare for your New Year stop smoking attempt so that you are ready to give quitting a go on 1st January once the festivities are over. If you are using an e-cig or thinking of switching to an e-cig to help you quit smoking, we can still help you.


"Smokers will get free, friendly support and treatment from one of our specialist stop smoking advisors to help them to quit. Our drop in sessions are located all over the city so there is always somewhere close by which can support you. It is a fact that smokers who try to quit with support are four times more likely to quit than if they go it alone. Please do get in touch as we are here to help every step of the way."


For information and support on stopping smoking, contact Live Well Gateshead on 0800 014 9092, or Newcastle Stop Smoking Service on 0191 269 1103, or 07809 105 837, or email:


While some smokers are still unsure about electronic cigarettes, it is estimated they helped an extra 18,000 people quit smoking in 2015.


A review of evidence from Public Health England in 2015 found:

  • the current best estimate is that e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than smoking
  • but worryingly, nearly half the population (44.8%) don't realise e-cigarettes are much less harmful than smoking
  • there is no evidence so far that e-cigarettes are acting as a route into smoking for children or non-smokers.