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Smokers in Middlesbrough urged to give quitting a go on No Smoking Day 2018

By Published March 08, 2018

With less than a week to go until No Smoking Day on Wednesday, March 14, thousands of smokers in Middlesbrough are being urged to give quitting a go – and try to quit at least once a year until they stop for good.

The call comes as new figures suggest smokers in the North East are making more successful quit attempts than elsewhere in the country.

The figures come from the Smoking Toolkit Study from University College London, which shows that in the past 10 years in the North East, around 18.3% of people who tried to quit smoking were still not smoking, compared with 15.7% of people nationally[i]. The figures for 2017 were 19.7% versus 17.7%.

Fresh is also encouraging Middlesbrough smokers who’ve struggled to quit so far to consider switching completely to an e-cigarette – significantly less harmful than smoking and now the most popular way to quit smoking in the UK. Whether or not smokers use an e-cigarette they are strongly advised to get support from their local Stop Smoking Service.

Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, said: “We are urging smokers to never give up on quitting. It is great to see the figures showing smokers in the North East have a better chance at quitting – and we have had the biggest fall in smoking since 2005, but we’re also suggesting some of the most effective ways to stop.

“Some people do manage to quit first time – but for most it takes many attempts. Don’t get disheartened if you didn’t quit first time, and don’t tell yourself you can’t do it. You can come back more determined and better prepared next time.”

Councillor Julia Rostron, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Adult Health and Social Care, said: “Smoking rates in Middlesbrough and the wider region are at an all-time low, and the figures continue to fall which is enormously encouraging.

“There’s more support available to help people quit than ever before, and No Smoking Day is an important annual focal point for those looking to make this life-changing decision, as well as those who have already ditched the habit.

“Nevertheless, smoking-related diseases and deaths remain a serious public health concern, and we will continue to do everything we can both to support smokers to quit and encourage people, especially the young, not to take up smoking in the first place.”

James Degnen, 67, from Middlesbrough, faced a stark choice in 2016 – quit smoking or risk losing a leg. Describing quitting as the “best decision I have ever made”, James said: “I was having trouble with blocked vascular veins in my legs and had faced a number of health conditions over the years. In 2009, I even had to undergo a valve replacement in my heart and I was advised to quit smoking at the time, but I just couldn’t motivate myself to quit. 

“With my latest surgery scheduled for the beginning of 2017, my surgeon warned me that it was either pack in smoking or risk losing my leg. In the build up to that point, I was feeling so bad, I could barely walk 50 metres with the dog without having to stop and rest.

“The surgery was the real turning point for me and I quit smoking in December 2016 in preparation for it. Having been a casual smoker since age 15, it was difficult for me at first to break the habit. I had been smoking for over 50 years after all.

“My brother-in-law suggested I try e-cigarettes and they have made a huge difference to me. I used the menthol refills and found that they replaced the need for cigarettes, to the point where I now don’t think about having a cigarette at all. 

“My wife of nearly 50 years, Rita, also made the decision to quit smoking which has been brilliant and we’ve supported each other through. We’ve even managed to persuade some of our neighbours to stop smoking too. We all feel so much better health-wise. My wife and I are enjoying being able to do more with the grandchildren and we can walk our dog further without having to stop now.”

The Smoking Toolkit study is co-ordinated by Prof Robert West, Professor of Health Psychology and Director of Tobacco Studies, University College London.

Prof West said: “Every smoker should have a go at stopping smoking at least once a year and No Smoking Day is a great opportunity to do this. Our research tells us that the best chance of success is by doing it all in one go rather than by trying to cut down gradually, and to use the Local Stop Smoking Service.

“The North East has seen a higher quit success rate. If we can encourage more smokers in the North East to have a go at stopping we could see huge reductions in smoking rates.

Some of the ways to quit Fresh is recommending include:

  • Stop Smoking Services – with expert specialist help smokers are up to four times more likely to quit.
  • Switching to e-cigarettes.  There is growing evidence that e-cigarettes can help people stop smoking and using an e-cigarette can help you manage your nicotine cravings [ii]. E-cigs are estimated to be 95% less harmful than smoking[iii]. Refillable “tank” system e-cigarettes are regarded as more effective and end up being cheaper than the discardable ones that look like cigarettes. Specialist e-cigarette retailers can provide advice.[iv]
  • Using a quitting cessation aid like nicotine patches or a stop smoking medicine such as Champix[v]. Cigarettes contain nicotine which your body becomes dependent on. Stop smoking medicines can help you manage withdrawal symptoms. Most health problems are caused by other components in tobacco smoke, not by the nicotine.
  • Ask your GP or pharmacist.
  • Get support from family and friends – their support can go a long way. If your partner smokes, why not quit together?
  • There are a range of tools online such as the Smokefree App, email and text support from NHS Smokefree, or call the National Smokefree Helpline on 0300 123 1044.


For support and advice on quitting smoking in Middlesbrough call the local stop smoking service on: 01642 383819 or visit: https://www.nth.nhs.uk/services/stop-smoking-service/

[i] Report ‘Smoking Cessation Rates in the North East versus the rest of England: a 10 year comparison’ by University College London on http://www.swmokinginengland.info.

[ii] https://www.nhs.uk/smokefree/help-and-advice/e-cigarettes

[iii] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/e-cigarettes-an-evidence-update

[iv] Electronic cigarettes: A briefing for stop smoking services, 2016 National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT)


Table 1

Table 1 shows the quit success rates in the North East region and the rest of England for the years 2008 to 2017. It is clear that the rates in the North East have been generally higher than for the rest of England.

Table: Quit success rates in the North East versus the rest of England 2008-2017













Rest of England












North East














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