A young carer from Northumberland has highlighted the devastating impact his mother’s lung disease has had on their family, as a hard-hitting stop smoking campaign features in the North East.
Backed by a Newcastle University respiratory consultant, FRESH’s ‘Every Breath’ campaign will run again from August 30 to show how smoking causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The campaign, backed by Sting and supported by the British Lung Foundation, triggered a big rise in the number of people quitting smoking last Autumn.
John Stoddart, from Ashington, (pictured above) has been a full-time carer for his mum, Janet for more than five years after she was diagnosed with COPD. He said: “When my mum was first diagnosed with COPD in 2005, I was only a teenager. Since then I’ve had to do everything for my mum because she can’t do a lot for herself without getting out of breath really quickly. I cook her meals, clean the house and make sure she gets her tablets on time.
"Being a full-time carer for someone with COPD as a teenager and even now at the age of 21 can be stressful anyway, but because it’s my mum I’m looking after, seeing how COPD has affected her, is truly heartbreaking.
“I fear for her health every day and never know if tomorrow could be the last time I ever see her alive, which is just too horrible to think about. Every time she is taken to hospital I have to make sure I tell her that I love her just in case she doesn’t make it.
“I would encourage anyone who smokes to quit now for their own health, but also for the sake of their family who also live with the impact.”
Figures from the NHS Information Centre revealed the first phase of the campaign inspired a huge rise in the number of people quitting smoking with local NHS Stop Smoking Services during October to December 2012:
* A 17 per cent increase in people setting quit dates through NHS Stop Smoking Services in the North East – compared to a 2.9 per cent rise nationally
* A 21 per cent increase in people making it successfully to week four of their quit attempt compared to a 3.1 per cent rise nationally– suggesting North East smokers were more motivated to quit
* The North East NHS Stop Smoking Services as a whole outperforming all other regions following the Every Breath campaign
A survey following the campaign also found more than two thirds of North East smokers said it made them more likely to quit after seeing it
Professor Paul Corris, Professor of Thoracic Medicine at Newcastle University and Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust: Respiratory Co-Lead NHS North East said: “The North East is an area which has a higher than average national prevalence of smoking and smoking related conditions including COPD.
"It is important for us to educate the public and demonstrate that smoking is directly linked to the development and progression of lung disease such as COPD, through campaigns like Every Breath.
"Having a smoker in the family is an issue for all because it impacts on the whole family, not just the smoker.”
Ailsa Rutter, director of FRESH, said: “The Every Breath campaign has been a real wake up call to many smokers. It was news to many people who thought that being short of breath was normal, when in many cases it is an early sign of COPD and it makes quitting even more urgent.”
The Every Breath campaign will run from August 30 to September 23 with television and three new radio adverts highlighting the real stories of people affected by smoking related COPD. Cinema-goers all over the North East will also see a shocking 50 second breathing exercise that invites them to briefly experience how difficult breathing is in the later stages of COPD.
The TV ad can be viewed here.
(adapted from press release courtesy of FRESH)
published on: 23 August 2012