This No Smoking Day, why not #QuitforCovid with help from One You Kent services and the ‘My Quit Route’ app.
The number of people in Kent who smoke fell to 13.7% in 2019 and is at a record low but with COVID-19 still prevalent, and causing more severe symptoms for smokers, there has been no better time to quit.
The ‘My Quit Route’ app from Breaking Free Online is available now on the Google and Apple stores, plus also at www.kent.gov.uk/smokefree It provides Kent residents with personalised support to help them quit smoking with motivational tools and evidence-based behaviour change techniques including a money saving calculator to help them prepare to quit, and then stay smoke free in the long-term. It also signposts those who require professional help to their local support services.
Smoking tobacco damages the lungs, weakens the immune system and causes a range of severe respiratory problems. Evidence suggests people who smoke may be at increased risk of contracting more severe symptoms if they get COVID-19.
As well as reducing the risks from complications from coronavirus, quitting smoking quickly improves your circulation and your breathing. It also reduces the risks of other health problems such as heart attacks, strokes and many cancers.
Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, Clair Bell said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that smoking increases the severity of the symptoms and by quitting, you can reduce the chance of needing to go to hospital. No Smoking Day is a great time to try the support available locally – the ‘My Quit Route’ app will be part of the help offered through the One You Kent services and may benefit those who prefer to use online self-help measures.”
Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust provides smoking cessation services across Kent. Sarah Martin, One You Kent Locality Lead said: “Hundreds of smokers have come forward and successfully quit with One You Kent’s support during the pandemic, which is fantastic. Quitting smoking doesn’t have to be stressful. We offer a range of support to suit people at times convenient for you. Call 0300 123 1220, visit www.oneyoukent.org.uk for more information.”
Jason Mahoney, Health and Wellbeing Programme lead for PHE South East, said: “The pandemic has meant the last year has been incredibly challenging and stressful for many, however, No Smoking Day provides an opportunity for smokers to try and quit – regardless of how many times you may have tried in the past.
“Now more than ever before, there are a host of quit smoking aids and free support services available and evidence shows you are more likely to quit with support from a local stop smoking service than if you try to go it alone.
“Smokers who quit for 6 weeks or more are happier and experience less anxiety and depression than those who carry on smoking. Quitting really is the best thing a smoker can do for their physical and mental health.”
KCC is also supporting the NHS campaign being run locally by the Kent and Medway Cancer Alliance this year to raise awareness that a persistent cough lasting more than three weeks could be a sign of lung cancer, not just Covid. Smoking is by far the most common cause of lung cancer.
Dr Sona Gupta, Macmillan GP and Cancer Clinical Lead for NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Please do not dismiss a persistent cough as Covid, particularly if you have tested negative or if your cough lingers for a long time after a positive Covid test. Do not hesitate to make an appointment to see your GP if you have any symptoms of concern – we will not think that you are wasting our time.
“Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health and we encourage anyone who wants to give up to make the most of the variety of resources available to help you.
Families of smokers are at risk of passive smoking related health risks too and also report how worried they are of their loved one’s health. Smokers who go on to quit smoking report feeling much better generally physically and mentally. It is never too late and worth every effort.”
Further information about lung cancer and symptoms is available on the NHS website or from Macmillan and the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. Macmillan also have a helpline on 0808 808 0000.
Find out more about the ‘My Quit Route’ app plus a range of tools, tips and local support services that can help you at www.kent.gov.uk/smokefree