A new NHS smokefree campaign has former England goalkeeper, David James, asking the 5.3 million smokers in England to quit for the benefit of their children.
Teenagers are more than three times more likely to smoke if they have parents, caregivers or friends that smoke, the campaign highlights. Four in five smokers say they started before the age of 20 and research suggests those who start smoking under 18 are less likely to quit in later life.
David James said for him and his family, smoking was ‘normal’:
‘My mum smoked, my friends smoked, it was around me. It didn’t take long for me to be hooked. Looking back, it had a huge impact on my health and performance at the time, I wish I never started.’
Smoking is the largest preventable cause of death in England and costs the NHS £3 billion a year, states the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). On top of this, smoking causes further losses of up to £14 billion in productivity. The DHSC say this money could pay the annual salaries of half a million nurses, 390,000 GPs, or could pay for 400 million GP appointments.
In England, 76% of people support the government’s ‘smokefree generation’ principle, with plans for a new law to prevent anyone who turned 14 in 2023, or younger, from being sold tobacco. In addition, the ‘Swap to Stop’ scheme has seen requests from local authorities for 259,000 vapes to support adult smokers in their efforts to quit.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Chris Whitty said:
‘Stopping people becoming addicted to smoking and helping those who have been addicted to quit are two of the most important measures we can take to improve health. Quitting will improve your health whatever your age and no matter how long you have smoked, it’s never too late to stop.’
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