– aim is to help 5,000 per year to stop smoking
– free face to face and online support
Stop-Smoking experts in Berkshire are planning extra high profile activities to help get the message across and recruit more would-be quitters on national No Smoking Day, March 13.
Over a thousand Berkshire smokers have quit since the county-wide introduction last October of SmokeFreeLifeBerkshire, a new free advisory and support service. Around 300 Berkshire people per month are now giving up smoking, and the aim is to help 5,000 to stop smoking, every year.
SmokeFreeLifeBerkshire, run by healthcare innovator, Solutions 4 Health®, reaches out to smokers across the county in, shopping malls, town centres, GP surgeries, schools, prisons and mobile clinics, and has been invited into a number of workplaces.
Solutions 4 Health’s mobile minibus clinic and Smart car will be visible across Berkshire throughout next week, particularly in Reading town centre (Oxford Road and Cemetery Road), Britwell, Chalvey, Slough, Windsor and Maidenhead, with information for the adults and balloons for the children – look out for the advisors dressed in cigarette costumes!
The advisors frequently visit workplaces, too, and on No Smoking Day will be running events in Pepsico (Reading) and Vodafone HQ (near Newbury).
The free service is available to people living or working in Berkshire, including Newbury, Thatcham, Wokingham, Reading, Theale, Mortimer, Pangbourne, Hungerford, Lambourn, Slough, Windsor, Ascot, Maidenhead and Bracknell. There’s also an online stop smoking service, available at www.smokefreelifeberkshire.com.
All advisors are professionally trained in Smoking Cessation, having completed face-to-face and online training, including special modules on pregnancy and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) updates. This year, advisors will also be specially trained on Shisha use.
“We’ve beaten our targets so far, confirming the demand for stop-smoking services in Berkshire.” says Lynne Heasman, Solutions 4 Health’s Regional Services Manager. “Every month that passes, we are setting up new venues for people to access the service, as well as through our online service at www.smokefreelifeberkshire.com.”
The service was introduced by NHS Berkshire in support of the Department of Health’s aim to reduce smoking prevalence among all adults from 21% to below 18% by 2015. Over 8 million people in England smoke, and the rate of decline has slowed in recent years.
“Currently more than 3000 people per year die as a result of a smoking related illness in Berkshire and the cost of smoking related admissions to hospitals in Berkshire amounts to £12 million per year” said Dr Lise Llewellyn, Strategic Director of Public Health for the Berkshire Unitary Authorities. “Supporting people to give up smoking and preventing young people from starting smoking are important priorities for the NHS and Local Councils in their increasing responsibility to encourage healthy communities. No Smoking Day is a great opportunity for people to quit smoking and improve their health”.
Carol Wooldridge from Bradfield near Theale, was one of the first quitters through the Berkshire service. A 22-year smoker, on more than 20-a-day, she stopped in October, after referral to a SmokeFreeLifeBerkshire advisor by her local surgery’s practice nurse. “They gave me so much encouragement and helped me to stay off the tobacco.” She says, adding, “Everything tastes and smells different, and my cough and shortness of breath have both improved.” Her advice to others is that, if they can get through the day’s first cravings, the rest of the day is a lot easier. “I just have a cup of tea and cope that way.” She says, adding one particular thing that’s worked well for her. “I’ve taken up knitting to keep my hands busy – I’ve made a couple of scarves already, so my husband will be pleased next winter!”