Smokers are being urged to prepare for battle and attempt to give up cigarettes for good to mark national No Smoking Day.
Statistics show one in four adults in Middlesbrough (26%) and Redcar and Cleveland (24%) smoke, but national studies reveal that around two thirds of smokers actually want to quit*.
This year’s No Smoking Day campaign takes place on Wednesday 12 March and has a ‘V for Victory’ theme which aims to inspire hundreds of thousands of smokers across the country to win the fight against cigarettes.
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is holding its own V for Victory event to inspire quitters and help them battle their cravings.
The trust’s stop smoking team will be in the atrium at The James Cook University Hospital on Wednesday 12 March from 11am to 2pm offering advice, support and carbon monoxide level tests to staff, patients and visitors.
Stop smoking advisor Sarah Sharpe said: “No Smoking Day is a great opportunity for us to encourage and support smokers to quit.
“This year’s theme is V for Victory so we are urging smokers to battle their cravings, be victorious and quit for good!
“We know that quitting isn’t easy but we want to reassure staff, patients and visitors that they can win the battle against cigarettes, especially if they have the right support.”
And youngsters on the children’s wards at James Cook are taking part in a No Smoking Day poster competition to help spread the V for Victory message.
The trust is also fighting its own battle as it continues to receive complaints about people smoking near entrances at James Cook despite all hospitals now being smoke-free sites.
Ruth Holt, director of nursing and quality assurance, said: “It’s a contentious issue which attracts numerous complaints from patients, visitors and staff. While we’ve already done a lot of work to provide stop smoking support to people and to try and prevent smoking in our hospital grounds, the key issue for us is, legally, we cannot enforce a ban on site.
“One of my tasks since joining the trust is to re-establish a smoking cessation forum and I’m keen to hear people’s thoughts on this issue.”
South Tees is part of a network of organisations across the UK that manages local activities for the No Smoking Day campaign. The annual campaign is run by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and encouraged one million smokers to make a quit attempt last year.
Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the BHF, said: “We’re encouraging smokers to mark Wednesday 12 March in their diary to join hundreds of thousands of other quitters in attempting to stub out cigarettes for good.”
For more information and support to help you quit as well as an online forum where you can talk and get motivation and support from thousands of quitters, visit nosmokingday.org.uk
*Statistics based on figures from ACORN data and ASH.