A THOUGHT-provoking new stop smoking campaign is today unveiled
by Fresh and the British Lung Foundation in the North East to
highlight a cruel, lingering disease that destroys the lungs.
'Every breath' aims to highlight the long-term effects of
smoking-related chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the
umbrella term for emphysema and chronic bronchitis, in a bid to
encourage more people to quit smoking.
Despite the largest drop in smoking in England, the North East
still has the worst rate of COPD in the country. Around 8,700
people were diagnosed with the condition in 2008-09, but it is
estimated that around 32,000 more people in the North East have the
disease but have never been diagnosed.
With permission from Sting to use his lyrics, 'Every breath'
aims to show how COPD is a progressive disease and challenges the
assumption among most smokers that being short of breath is
A survey of smokers in the North East found that 67% weren't
even aware of COPD or the debilitating effect on people's
Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, said: "The North East has the
highest rate of COPD in the whole of England*. COPD stops people
from being able to breathe properly - they feel like they are
"This campaign is a UK first - the North East is the first
region in the whole of the country to use COPD in a stop smoking
campaign - and the fact that we are leading the way on this is
certainly something to be proud of.
"We want people in the North East to be the best informed in the
country about the health harms of smoking. We hope that with 'Every
breath', we are able to provide the hard facts about the terrible
effects of COPD and further encourage more people to quit smoking
as early as possible to prevent it."
COPD is the UK's fifth biggest killer, killing more people than
breast, bowel or prostate cancer every year. Eighty per cent of
cases are caused by smoking *** and the symptoms of COPD are often
presumed to be the 'normal' side effects of being a smoker - i.e.
breathlessness and a 'smoker's cough'. Because it is a disease
which affects breathing, it is the second biggest cause of
emergency admissions to hospital and costs the NHS an estimated
£491m every year.
Dr Chris Stenton is a Consultant Respiratory Physician with
Newcastle Hospitals' Foundation Trust, based at the RVI. He
said: "COPD is a disease mainly caused by smoking.
Unfortunately it a disease many smokers don't know much about until
they are diagnosed. It can be a cruel disease, but its worst
ravages can be prevented by quitting smoking early enough. More
awareness and education can only be a good thing.
"A person with COPD will experience a much more rapid and severe
decline in the function of their lungs, which will make daily life
seem a struggle. Tasks that they previously took for granted such
as walking upstairs, washing or shopping become tremendously hard
"For anyone who smokes, is in their mid to late 30s or older and
is experiencing shortness of breath it is likely they are
experiencing COPD in the early stages. At that point it is vital to
quit smoking now before things get worse.
"Many COPD patients do find quitting smoking and treatment can
really help their quality of life, but unfortunately we do not have
any treatments that stop COPD getting worse or reverse the damage
already sustained. The only way to stop the
deterioration in lung function is to quit smoking."
As well as a team of medical experts throughout the region,
FRESH has partnered with the British Lung Foundation to help raise
awareness of COPD.
Bev Wears, Support and Development Manager at the British Lung
Foundation North of England, said: "We are delighted to back this
campaign as we are all too aware of the damage that COPD causes
both physically and emotionally. Many people with COPD tell us they
wish they had known more about the disease and its links to smoking
when they were younger. The British Lung Foundation is
extremely pleased that FRESH is helping to highlight the
'Every breath' also has the backing of musician Sting, who is
originally from the North East. Sting said: "Many people across the
UK are affected by lung damage and other smoking related illnesses,
particularly in the North East where I grew up. I'm pleased to
support a programme which works towards giving people the
motivation and support they need to quit."
Ailsa Rutter continued: "FRESH is extremely grateful to Sting
for giving permission for his lyrics to be used in support of our
campaign, to the British Lung Foundation, medical experts across
the North East and to real people who live with the horrible
effects of COPD every day for stepping forward to help highlight
the long-term effects in a bid to encourage other smokers to quit
before it's too late.
"Quitting smoking is the best thing anyone can do for their
health and people in their 30s and 40s mustn't ignore the early
warning signs of COPD, such as breathlessness. Anyone who
would like to quit smoking should contact the NHS Smokefree
Helpline on 0800 011612, or text FRESH and their postcode to 88088,
they can also visit www.everybreath.tv or make an
appointment to see their GP."
Published: 10 October 2011
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