North Tyneside CCG News

Warning to part-time and light smokers about health risks

Mon 20th February 2017

* Ditch completely or switch to electronic cigarettes says Fresh

SMOKERS who’ve cut down are being warned they are still facing significant risks of cancer and heart disease unless they quit or switch as a campaign launches today.

Fresh is re-launching the Don’t be the 1 campaign warning that half of all long term smokers will die from smokingi. That means of the North East’s 392,000 smokers, 196,000 people are at risk unless they quit. Smoking cuts around 10 years off a person’s life on averageii.

But with many smokers cutting down to ten or fewer cigarettes a day, or to hand rolling tobacco, Fresh is warning people not to ignore the substantial risks from smoking only a few cigarettes a day.

As well as record numbers of people quitting in the North East, a survey by Freshiii found many smokers have cut down – with 1 in five smokers consuming five or fewer cigarettes a day compared to 1 in 10 smokers in 2009. However, evidence shows:

* Smoking just a few cigarettes raises your risks of heart disease very quickly. The risk of heart disease in men and women aged 35 to 39 years who smoke 1 to 4 cigarettes per day is nearly 3 times that of a non-smoker.iv Passive smoking is also a cause of heart disease in non-smokers.

* Women aged between 35 and 49 years who smoke 1 to 4 cigarettes per day have 5 times the risk of developing lung cancer and men have 3 times the risks of non-smokers.v

* Research looking at deaths from respiratory disease, such as emphysema, has found people who smoke between one and 10 cigarettes a day had over six times the risk of dying from respiratory diseases than those who have never

* People who smoke 1-4 cigarettes a day have more than double the risk of stomach cancer. vii

* Light smoking also has an impact on frailty in older people, increasing their risk of fractures.

Smokers can find details of stop smoking services, and free support like the Quit Kit and Smokefree App on the website.

Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, said: “In the North East we have seen the biggest fall in smoking in England over the last decade, and people who are still smoking are smoking less than they were.

“Cost and awareness of the health risks are both factors. If you only smoke a few cigarettes a day, it must be tempting to hope the risks don’t apply. However, the evidence is clear that even a few cigarettes a day can cause cancer and heart disease, and change lives forever.

“We are urging people to think about quitting for their family. Cutting down can help people to quit, but taking the next step is vital. In the run up to No Smoking Day we are urging people to ditch tobacco completely or if they aren’t ready to quit nicotine, to switch to a safer way of getting it, like an electronic cigarette.”

Prof John Britton, director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies and a consultant in respiratory medicine, said: “Many smokers who are aware of the risks will cut down on how much they smoke, hoping this will reduce the harm.

“But the fact is that there is no safe level of smoking. Even one cigarette a day carries a substantial health risk, especially for heart disease.

“If you’re worried about the effect of smoking on your health, or the health of those around you, you need to quit smoking. If you still need nicotine you can get that from medicines or electronic cigarettes, but you have to say goodbye to all tobacco.”

A recent study funded by Cancer Research UKviii found that people who switched from smoking tobacco cigarettes to e-cigarettes or nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) such as gum or patches for at least six months had much lower levels of toxins and cancer

causing chemicals than those who continued to smoke. But a complete switch was needed to get the health benefits.

Since 2005, smoking has fallen from 29% of adults in 2005, to 18.7% in 2015 – the equivalent of around 189,000 fewer adult smokers. The North East also has the lowest youth smoking rates on record and has seen a corresponding fall in deaths.

However, every year in the North East smoking still causes:

* 5416 deaths from a smoking related disease.

* 445,400 GP appointments, and 101,600 hospital admissions and outpatient appointment from the five main diseases linked to smoking.

* A cost to local authorities of £44m in social care costs from smoking related diseases for adults over 50.

The award-winning Don’t be the 1 campaign first launched in 2014 after a survey of North East smokers found 9 out of 10 smokers underestimate the 1 in 2 risk.

There is lots of local support to give you a much better chance of quitting smoking and help manage your cravings. Contact your local stop smoking service to get your quit attempt underway, or talk to your GP or pharmacist. All stop smoking services in the North East are also welcoming of people using their own electronic cigarettes to quit.

* Tees – 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

* Smokefreelife County Durham 0800 772 0565

* Darlington 0300 123 1044 (national quitline)

* North Tyneside (for details of local sessions) 0191 643 7171

* Northumberland Stop Smoking Service 01670 813 135

* South Tyneside Change 4 Life 0191 424 7300

* Sunderland Live Life Well 0800 107 0741