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Smoking causes heart disease - quit for New Year



SMOKERS are being urged to quit for New Year in a campaign that highlights the damaging effect smoking has on the heart, as it is revealed that 45 people a day die of cardiovascular disease caused by smoking - over 16,500 a year in England.


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%) 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.


Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, said: "If you smoke, quitting not only means an instant pay rise but also reduces your chances of a serious disease within days of stopping. Children worry about their parents and grandparents smoking and quitting is likely to make your family very proud.


"This year there is another reason to quit at New Year, as more and more packs of cigarettes will be in plain standardized packaging with larger health warnings. Every cigarette is a stark reminder of the damage smoking causes."


Dr John Bourke, Consultant Cardiologist at Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust and Cardiac Lead for the Northern England Cardiovascular Network, said: "Cigarette smoking is the single most important and avoidable risk factor for death at a young age in both men and women in the UK.


"Smoking speed up the ageing process in blood vessels throughout the body - causing heart attacks, leg amputations and strokes. In short, cigarette smoking accelerates the ageing process making your body older at every age than you actually should be."


Prof Gerry Stansby, Consultant Vascular Surgeon with Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust and Vascular Lead for the Northern England Cardiovascular Network, said: "The Carbon Monoxide people inhale with every cigarette smoked makes it more likely for artery walls to become damaged, while the chemicals in smoke make blood stickier. The result can be clotting and smokers are much more likely to have a stroke than non-smokers. The more you smoke, the more this risk increases.


"Smoking is toxic to blood vessels and as is the main cause of leg amputation in my patients – the tragedy is that it is avoidable. Smoking damages the arteries throughout the body causing heart attacks stroke and gangrene of the leg – even if you are not killed your quality of life will be enormously reduced."


Marlene Westwick, 62, from Prudhoe, Northumberland, has angina and COPD. She finally found the strength to stop smoking earlier this year after her granddaughter pleaded with her to quit.


Marlene said: "If I had one message for anyone thinking about stopping smoking I'd say just give it a go. It's your life you're losing by smoking. Think of your children, grandchildren, partner and loved ones and how it'll affect them when you're gone. Even if you don't succeed at first, they say that God loves a trier. Give it a go, see how you feel, and you might surprise yourself."


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 illness.


"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."


Dr Ranj Singh, TV 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 30th 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.


Smokers looking to quit are being encouraged to search 'Smokefree' online or contact their local Stop Smoking Service.


Tees NHS Stop Smoking Service (Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-On-Tees and Hartlepool)

01642 383 819


Live Well Gateshead

0800 014 9092


Newcastle Stop Smoking Service

0191 269 1103


County Durham Smokefreelife

0800 772 0565



0300 123 1044 (national quitline)


North Tyneside

0300 123 1044 (national quitline)


Northumberland Stop Smoking Service

01670 813 135


South Tyneside Change 4 Life

0191 424 7300


Sunderland Live Life Well

0800 107 0741