A Darlington man is urging young smokers to quit the deadly addiction that destroys lives, following his lung cancer surgery at The James Cook University Hospital.
Martin Cunliffe, 47, started smoking due to pressure from friends and picked up the habit at the young age of 17.
He said: “I started smoking due to peer pressure and I had to give in if I wanted to be a part of the group.”
According to a government report, most smokers start as teenagers with 83% smoking before the age of 20.
Originally from Darlington, Martin had worked as a point of sales designer for several years and his work has seen him travelling across Europe.
He was referred to James Cook for further treatment and underwent lung cancer surgery, which was led by cardiothoracic consultant Jonathan Ferguson.
Following his successful surgery, Martin is now in his recovery stage and is raising awareness among the public – in a bid to encourage smokers to quit and seek help.
He has teamed up with Jonathan and Jonathan’s 11-year-old son Thomas and has shot a YouTube video highlighting the effects of smoking on an individual.
Jonathan said: “For more than 16 years, I have worked as cardiothoracic consultant and it has been a privilege to serve my local community.
However, I look forward to a future where they no longer need my services. For every cigarette you smoke, you lose eleven minutes of your life."
During a brief conversation between Martin and Thomas, the former advised the youngster to follow in his father’s footsteps and never to smoke.
He added: “There are better things to do in life than lighting a cigarette.
The majority of people who smoked along with me when we were kids have either passed away or are suffering from various illnesses.”
Tobacco dependency treatment lead Maria Taylor said: “We understand that an individual starts to smoke due to several reasons and it ends up becoming extremely difficult to give up the smoking addiction.
“This is what we are here for – to offer expert support and resources to individuals struggling to quit smoking or abstain whilst on our sites.
“If you are an inpatient receiving care in one of our hospitals, just ask a member of staff who will be able to refer you to our tobacco dependency treatment team.”
Search #Stoptober for more advice and support or visit www.southtees.nhs.uk/patients-visitors/visitors/smoke-free/.