RB award-winning campaign re-launches to warn part-time and light smokers about health risks

March 2, 2017

SMOKERS who’ve cut down are being warned they still face significant risks of cancer and heart disease unless they quit or switch as a campaign launches this month.

Our client, Fresh Smokefree North East, is re-launching the award winning Don’t be the 1 campaign warning that half of all long-term smokers will die from smoking. That means of the North East’s 392,000 smokers, 196,000 people are at risk unless they quit.

But with many smokers cutting down to ten or fewer cigarettes a day, or to hand rolling tobacco, Fresh is warning people not to ignore the substantial risks from smoking only a few cigarettes a day.

As well as record numbers of people quitting in the North East, a survey by Fresh found many smokers have cut down – with 1 in five smokers consuming five or fewer cigarettes a day compared to 1 in 10 smokers in 2009. However, evidence shows:

  • Smoking just a few cigarettes raises your risks of heart disease very quickly. The risk of heart disease in men and women aged 35 to 39 years who smoke 1 to 4 cigarettes per day is nearly 3 times that of a non-smoker. Passive smoking is also a cause of heart disease in non-smokers.
  • Women aged between 35 and 49 years who smoke 1 to 4 cigarettes per day have 5 times the risk of developing lung cancer and men have 3 times the risks of non-smokers.
  • Research looking at deaths from respiratory disease, such as emphysema, has found people who smoke between one and 10 cigarettes a day had over six times the risk of dying from respiratory diseases than those who have never smoked.
  • People who smoke 1-4 cigarettes a day have more than double the risk of stomach cancer.
  • Light smoking also has an impact on frailty in older people, increasing their risk of fractures.

Smokers can find details of stop smoking services, and free support like the Quit Kit and Smokefree App on the Dontbethe1.tv website.

Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, said: “In the North East we have seen the biggest fall in smoking in England over the last decade, and people who are still smoking are smoking less than they were.

“Cost and awareness of the health risks are both factors. If you only smoke a few cigarettes a day, it must be tempting to hope the risks don’t apply. However, the evidence is clear that even a few cigarettes a day can cause cancer and heart disease, and change lives forever.

“We are urging people to think about quitting for their family. Cutting down can help people to quit, but taking the next step is vital. In the run up to No Smoking Day we are urging people to ditch tobacco completely or if they aren’t ready to quit nicotine, to switch to a safer way of getting it, like an electronic cigarette.”

Since 2005, smoking in the North East has fallen from 29% of adults in 2005, to 18.7% in 2015 – the equivalent of around 189,000 fewer adult smokers. The North East also has the lowest youth smoking rates on record and mortality rates from diseases linked to smoking.

However, every year in the North East smoking still causes:

  • 5,416 deaths from a smoking-related disease.
  • 445,400 GP appointments, and 101,600 hospital admissions and outpatient appointments from the five main diseases linked to smoking.
  • A cost to local authorities of £44m in social care costs from smoking-related diseases for adults over 50.

The award-winning Don’t be the 1 campaign first launched in 2014 after a survey of North East smokers found 9 out of 10 smokers underestimate the 1 in 2 risk.

In the run up to No Smoking Day on 9th March we’re asking you, if you know someone who smokes, to positively “Be The One” and encourage them to make a quit attempt. We know its tough, but one in two smokers will die from a smoking related illness, so well worth some support from friends and family.