A smoke free year

Jean Askew.
Jean Askew.
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Many people will use midnight tonight to pledge to stop smoking once and for all. Catherine Scott talks to one Wakefield councillor who has eventually quit on her eighth attempt.

The Wakefield District Councillor has attempted many times to give up over the years, seven to be precise.

But this time she says it is different.

“I lost both my parents to lung cancer within 18 months of each other, and having nursed them throughout, and seeing what they endured, I don’t want to go through what they did,” says the 57-year-old mother and grandmother,

“I’ve never had much willpower in the past, but I have managed to do it this time, and I can honestly say I feel amazingly well, both mentally and physically.”

This time Coun Askew sought professional help through the Wakefield stop smoking service which is part of Yorkshire Smokefree.

“I was supported by my designated ‘stop smoking’ nurse who told me that most people my age try to stop around five to eight times on average before they finally succeed.

“This was my eighth attempt and I hope it is my last.

Many people in Wakefield were inspired to give up smoking for Stoptober and are seeing the benefits with money they have already saved for the festive season.

New figures have revealed that more than 1,100 people in Wakefield gave up smoking during the health initiative run across Yorkshire throughout October.

Dr Andrew Furber, director of public health at Wakefield Council, has welcomed the figures from the health event, which runs every year.

People can get advice from specialist health professionals who advise them on the most effective ways to stop smoking and from the support available to them to remain smoke-free.

Many will also be reaping the financial benefits, especially over the Christmas and New Year period, which can be an expensive time – as a 20-a-day smoker can save £250 a month once they have given up.

“Congratulations to everyone who has stopped smoking,” said Dr Furber.

“Smoking is the leading cause of preventable ill health in the district and by giving up, people are doing the best for their long-term health by reducing their risk of developing serious conditions including, cancer, stroke and heart disease.”

As well as feeling physically better Coun Askew confirms she is also one of those who are reaping the financial benefits.

She is saving up the money she spent on smoking and has plans for a mini-break in London in the New Year.

“I’m so pleased I’ve given up smoking and I would urge anyone who is thinking about it, to go ahead and do.

“I feel fitter, happier and healthier.”

And she is also urging anyone who is thinking about wanting to stop to ask for advice at their doctor’s surgery, or contact the council’s stop smoking service at http://yorkshiresmokefree.nhs.uk/ or call free on 0800 612 0011.

Yorkshire Smokefree is run by South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and covers the areas of Barnsley, Calderdale, Doncaster, Rotherham, Sheffield and Wakefield.

FIVE GOOD REASONS TO STOP SMOKING

1. You’ll be healthier and less out of breath because smoking decreases your lung capacity.

2. You’ll save a packet. The average smoker spends around £27.54 a week and £90,000 over their lifetime on cigarettes.

3. You’ll look better. Chemicals in cigarettes restrict blood flow to your skin. Smokers have more wrinkled and saggy faces by the time they’re in their mid-20s.

4. Someone who starts smoking at 15 is three times more likely to die from cancer than someone who starts smoking in their mid-20s.

5. The younger you start, the more damage you do.