Anti-smoking campaign returns after seven-fold rise in quit rate

A campaign in the North East encouraging people to stop smoking has returned after triggering a 21% rise in the number of smokers quitting.

Smoking: campaign relaunched after high quit rate
Smoking: campaign relaunched after high quit rate

The campaign was relaunched by Fresh, the UK’s first dedicated regional programme for tobacco control, following the success of its first scheme last autumn.

Figures from the NHS Information Centre show that 13,442 people attempted to quit in the quarter after the 'Every Breath' campaign began, up from 11,486 people, equivalent to a 17% increase.

There was also a 21% increase in people successfully reaching week four of their quit attempt, the equivalent to 1,093 people in the North East. This compared to a 3.1% rise nationally.

The campaign consisted of a series of striking TV, radio and cinema adverts focusing on how COPD caused by smoking can impair breathing.

Two thirds of smokers there said they were more likely to quit after seeing the campaign's messages, according to a survey.

Fresh director Ailsa Rutter said: ‘We’ve had so much positive feedback from people who said the hard-hitting, factual approach gave them the reason they needed to quit smoking and have made the decision to run it again, based on the campaign’s proven track record of results.’

The campaign also raised public awareness about COPD, which causes 30,000 deaths a year in the UK.

Ms Rutter added: ‘The Every Breath campaign has been a real wake-up call to many smokers. Most say they know that smoking is bad for them, and have heard of lung cancer.

'But it was news to smokers who thought that being short of breath was normal, when in many cases it is an early sign of COPD and makes quitting even more urgent.’

A survey of 500 smokers showed 60% did not know shortness of breath was a tell-tale sign. Fresh said that most believe it is a normal part of smoking, which means they do not seek help from their GP until the disease has reached its later stages.

According to the British Lung Foundation, there are an estimated 3.7 million COPD sufferers in the UK, yet only 900,000 people have been diagnosed.

The North East has the highest prevalence of COPD in England, where 80% of cases are caused by smoking.

The Every Breath campaign released new TV and radio adverts on 30 August this year.

Since 3 September, cinema-goers have been seeing how difficult breathing is in the later stages of COPD through a 'shocking' breathing exercise advert. Breathing has been described as feeling like choking or suffocating in the later stages of COPD.

The campaign will run until the end of September.

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