Kick the habit on No Smoking Day

Posted: March 11, 2020

Tobacco kills up to half of its users

Today (Wednesday 11 March), we are supporting No Smoking Day - a national campaign that encourages smokers to quit using cigarettes, to raise awareness of the health risk of smoking and to celebrate those who have kicked the habit.

According to The World Health Organisation, tobacco kills up to half of its users.

In Swindon, there are currently over 30,000 smokers. Over 280 of these smokers will die each year.

This year alone, staff at Great Western Hospital have treated over 1,700 patients for smoking-related illness, many of whom have gone on to require additional support.

As part of its drive to become a smoke free site, staff at the Trust have not only supported patients to give up smoking, but have also been working hard to cut the cigarettes themselves.

445 patients, in the last year, have been offered nicotine-replacement therapy (NRT) during their stay in hospital.

NRT is a medication that provides a low level of nicotine, without the tar, carbon monoxide and other poisonous chemicals presented in tobacco smoke.

It can help reduce unpleasant withdrawal effects, such as bad moods and cravings, which may occur when people stop smoking (please see the NHS website: Stop smoking: coping with cravings).

The Trust has also recently employed a specialist stop smoking midwife. Since October, Corinne Mildiner has supported 19 mothers to quit smoking during their pregnancy.

During the previous year, just 11 pregnant women stopped smoking.

"I've been a midwife for 18 years, working in Swindon, Wiltshire and London," said Corinne.

"I've always had a particular interest in smoking in pregnancy and I'm really keen to support women to do the best for themselves and their baby by quitting. 

"Smoking is the single biggest modifiable risk factor in pregnancy, and if women can quit by 15 weeks gestation they can dramatically reduce the risks in pregnancy, such as miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight, and also the likelihood of their children starting smoking in the future.

"The risk of smoking in pregnancy continues after birth. One in three cot deaths are associated with smoking in pregnancy, and the children of smokers are more likely to have asthma and respiratory problems.

"It is harder to quit in pregnancy, but with the right support and nicotine replacement therapy, women can prolong their life, improve the health of their baby and save money."

Staff have also signposted patients to local smoking cessation support groups, led by Swindon Borough Council.

The public health team within Swindon Borough Council have also shown their support by funding an annunciator at the hospital. The speaker plays out loud messages to ask people to put out their cigarettes.

Stephanie Taylor, Cardiac Rehabilitation Sister and Trust lead for smoking, said: "I am so thrilled that we now have the annunciator on site. We are encouraging both staff and the public to activate it, as everyone has a shared role in helping others to quit smoking and help maintain a Smokefree site.

"Stopping smoking is the single most important thing a person can do to improve their health.

"The annunciator plays recorded messages that are really impactful, including children saying messages such as 'my grandfather is receiving treatment for cancer, please don't smoke near him'.

"We are also continuing to push for a completely smokefree site by handing out smoking cessation information cards to smokers, offering nicotine replacement to inpatients and encourage those who can't quit smoking to vape - which Public Health England states has reduced health risks."

Councillor Brian Ford, Swindon Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, said: "We are absolutely committed to reducing smoking in Swindon so of course we were only too pleased to help the hospital become a smokefree site.

"I am delighted that colleagues at the hospital are seeing the benefits of the annunciator and I hope it continues to help people to kick the habit.

"Stopping smoking is the single greatest thing a smoker can do to improve their health and the Council will continue to invest in services to support people to quit smoking."

Further information

For support on quitting smoking, please see the visit httpNHS Smokefree website: Local stop smoking services.

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