It’s 32 odd years since l stubbed out my last cigarette but even now have to live with the damage inflicted on my lungs.
I know it’s not easy, but the sooner you stop the better. So l am happy to promote this year’s No Smoking Day.
The NHS in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire is calling on the thousands of active smokers in the region to ditch the habit and reap the benefits.
Each year on the second Wednesday in March, No Smoking Day puts the negative health effects of lighting up directly under the microscope and asks those who still practice the cancer-causing habit to give up for good.
According to the Office for National Statistics, approximately 13 per cent of the national population smokes, which is equivalent to around 6.6 million people.
Locally, the prevalence of active smokers is less than the national level, but still remains high.
Data from 2021 show that 12.5 per cent of the adult population in Swindon smokes, while the figures in Wiltshire and Bath and North East Somerset stand at 11.7 per cent and 9.7 per cent respectively.
This means there are more than 100,000 smokers living across the BSW region.
Dr Caroline Annesley, Wiltshire GP and BSW Clinical Lead for Cancer, said: “Smoking is extremely harmful to our health.
“It is the biggest preventable cause of cancer in the UK, and can lead to the disease developing in parts of the body other than just the lungs and throat.
“Cigarettes also cause damage to the heart and blood vessels, and greatly increase the chances of dementia.
“Stopping smoking is one of the best things people can do for their health and, as we approach No Smoking Day, I hope many will take this opportunity to quit.”
The Alzheimer’s Society estimates that smokers are between 30 and 50 per cent more likely to get the condition.
At the same time, the local NHS continues to see hundreds of people diagnosed with lung cancer, which is arguably the most common health-related consequence of cigarette use.
The National Lung Cancer Audit shows that in 2018, which remains the most-up- date reporting period, 225 patients at the Royal United Hospital in Bath were told they had lung cancer.
Chair: Stephanie Elsy | Chief Executive Officer: Sue Harriman http://www.bsw.icb.nhs.uk
In the same period, 200 patients at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon were also given the same diagnosis, as were 144 people at Salisbury District Hospital.
At a time when the NHS has never been busier, people can help ease the pressure by prioritising their health, with quitting smoking one of the quickest ways to improve overall wellbeing.
Help and advice on how to stop smoking is available online via the NHS website.
In addition, each of the region’s three councils – Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire – have dedicated stop smoking services which can help local smokers give up for good.
Find out more about local health and care services by visiting http://www.bsw.icb