With smoking prevalence in Kent higher than the national average, a campaign is underway as part of No Smoking Day (9 March) to encourage the county to become “smokefree”.
It is estimated that there are around 225,000 smokers in Kent (approximately 19 per cent of the population) and that smoking costs the county around £391million every year, including the £56million in direct costs to the NHS for treating smoking related ill health, along with £3m treating the effects of passive smoking in non-smokers.
Kent County Council is supporting the national “Smokefree” campaign by urging residents to consider the range of quit support options and sign-up to smoking cessation services.
Russ Brown, a 30-year-old recovery worker from Margate, started smoking at the age of 14 due to peer pressure. Last year, he decided that he wanted to become healthier in preparation for starting a family, so he took part in a work based stop smoking group and has been successfully smoke free for over a year now.
He said: “The best way to stay smoke free is to start breaking the regular smoking habits even before quitting, such as smoking in the car or smoking after meals, as they are the most challenging situations to overcome.”
Meanwhile, Ashford shop worker Geoffrey Booth, who started smoking at the age of just 16, decided to give up smoking last year with the help of his local pharmacy. The 45-year-old said: “The sense of achievement is really empowering and I’m breathing better than I have in years! The best advice I can give to anyone wishing to quit smoking would be to use the services provided to support any quit attempt.”
KCC’s Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark said: “Hard-hitting national campaigns continue to raise awareness of the costs to health and yet smoking is still the single greatest cause of premature death in the UK. Kent’s smokers are not alone when they recognise the need to give up – a range of support services are available to help smokers and these really could be the crucial difference to your success in quitting.”
It’s also believed that £33million costs are needed to provide care in later life as a result of smoking related illness and there is a £300m cost to industry due to loss of productivity in the workplace.
Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT) is commissioned by Kent County Council (KCC) to provide smoking cessation services across the county and will be running a roadshow at the British Heart Foundation from 2pm on the 9 March at their Maidstone Furniture and Electrical shop in the High Street. For information, go to www.kenthealthandwellbeing.nhs.uk or telephone 0300 123 1220.
There are 5000 brand new Quit Kits up for grabs in Kent. The free packs are available to anyone who wants to quit smoking and contain a savings calculator and your own 28-day smokefree calendar, as well as plenty of information, hints and tips to support you. You can apply online for a free kit at www.kent.gov.uk/smokefree and find out more information on all the support services available and the Smokefree Kent campaign.