SMOKERS on Tyneside are being urged to quit and reduce their risk of developing a disease, which can leave sufferers fighting for breath, in a campaign launched today by Fresh Smokefree North East.
Our ‘Every Breath’ campaign is raising awareness of smoking and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and is being supported by the British Lung Foundation.
COPD is the UK’s fifth biggest killer, is mainly caused by smoking and feeling breathless is an early sign. Sufferers can end up feeling like they are suffocating and one major study even suggests at least 1 in 4 smokers will develop clinically significant COPD.
The North East is one of the hardest hit regions with an estimated 93,273 people living with the condition. In Newcastle and Gateshead, figures suggest around 19,066 people are living with COPD, while another 8302 are estimated to have the condition in North Tyneside and another 6552 people in South Tyneside.
The North East also has the highest hospital admission rates from COPD with around 8,729 people admitted in 2011.
COPD is an umbrella term to describe a number of lung conditions including emphysema and chronic bronchitis. With emphysema, the air sacs in the lungs are gradually destroyed with every cigarette so people have difficulty absorbing enough oxygen. The bronchi become floppy and narrow so that it becomes harder to breathe in and out.
Smoking is the single biggest cause of the condition, responsible for around 80% of cases with every cigarette smoked causing further damage. There are varying levels of severity but once the damage is done, it is irreversible. Quitting smoking is the one clear way to reduce your risk.
Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, said: “COPD is a disease that too many smokers are not aware of until they are diagnosed, but research suggests that more than a quarter of smokers will develop it.
“Those figures are truly alarming, especially when so many people who smoke do suffer from early warning signs like feeling short of breath but dismiss them as a “normal” part of smoking. Not being able to breathe properly is something nobody wants to happen to them,
“When we ran this campaign in 2011 thousands of people quit as a result which is why we are running it again – it is never too late to quit smoking and it is the best way to reduce the risk.”
Every Breath will run for five weeks and will be supported by hard-hitting TV advertising backed by musician Sting, radio, print and digital including an online breathing exercise where people can experience what it feels like to suffer from COPD.
Sting said, “Many people across the UK are affected by lung damage and other smoking related illnesses, particularly in the North East where I grew up. I’m pleased to support a programme which works towards giving people the motivation and support they need to quit.”
The campaign is also supported by a number of case studies including this emotional film from Colin Docherty from Sunderland.
For further information visit: everybreath.tv