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New drive to get smokers to quit

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A HARD-HITTING campaign is being launched today to try and persuade the one in five adults in the region still smoking to quit after figures showed thousands are dying every year from 16 different cancers.

Councils across the region are backing the television and online campaign which aims to raise awareness that smoking is directly linked to 16 different cancers.

Yorkshire and the Humber has the highest adult smoking rates in the country, with 20 per cent of adults still smoking.

The most recent figures have shown that in 2013 there were 5,843 new cancer cases from smoking and 3,902 deaths.

In Hull, which has the second highest adult rate in the country, with about 30 per cent of residents – 63,000 people – who smoke, there are 40 deaths every month from directly-linked conditions.

Wakefield has the second highest rate in Yorkshire with 23.4 per cent of its population who smoke, followed by Leeds with 23.1 per cent.

In York, 18 people a month discover they have cancer caused by smoking.

The GP cancer lead at the Yorkshire and Humber Strategic Clinical Network, Dr Louise Merriman, said: “Most people are aware that smoking can cause lung cancer, but there is a huge lack of general awareness about the true health harms of smoking.

“People who smoke are at an increased risk of a range of cancers and you’re also more likely to have a stroke, a heart attack, and develop different health conditions including coronary heart disease.

“We want to encourage all smokers out there to find out more about quitting. Your GP can give you lots of advice and information and there are a range of resources available to help you.”

Although most smokers are aware of the link between smoking and lung cancer, many do not realise that smoking is also linked to a variety of cancers, including stomach, liver and pancreas as well as cancers of the mouth, nasal cavities, pharynx and larynx.

Quit16 is based on a campaign first developed and run in Australia in 2014 by the Cancer Council Western Australia.

Three quarters of smokers who saw it seriously considered quitting and 20 per cent discussed quitting with a health professional as a result.

Hull Council’s portfolio holder for public health, Coun Helena Spencer, said: “Our ultimate goal is for the future for today’s children to be one where smoking is not a normal thing for people to do. Far too many people in this city are still either dying or losing loved ones unnecessarily.

“While this campaign certainly does not tread softly and many people will find it brutally honest, if it helps people make that decision to quit, then it will have done its job.”

Yorkshire has the third highest cancer incidence rates in England. Survival rates for many of the most common cancers are below the national average.

Despite being the most feared disease, recent research showed almost 750,000 adults in the region take no preventative action to reduce their risk of developing it.

York Council’s interim director of public health, Sharon Stoltz, said: “The films and message are brutally honest: there are 16 cancers caused by smoking.

“Some will kill you quickly, others more slowly and it’s you and your family that have to live through it. Stopping smoking is the best thing you can do to reduce the risk that one of those deaths will be you.”