SMOKERS in South Tyneside who are smoking roll-ups could be kidding themselves it is less deadly.
That’s the message from the campaign group Fresh after new figures showed 30 per cent of smokers in the North East smoke roll-ups.
Hand rolling has doubled since 2009 and Public Health England has launched a campaign to highlight how smoking damages the body.
While many smokers know that smoking causes cancer and harms the lungs and heart, the new report highlights how it also damages bones and muscles, has an effect on bone mineral density, leads to slower healing after injury, and causes an increased risk of back and neck pain.
It can also cause rheumatoid arthritis, can increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, can increase tooth loss and decay, and damage eyesight.
Roll-ups contain as many harmful chemicals as manufactured cigarettes and smoking them causes the same health risks including cancer, stroke, heart and lung disease.
Lisa Surtees, acting director of Fresh, said: “The truth is that the tobacco inside roll-ups is full of the same toxic chemicals as manufactured cigarettes. If it is smoked without a filter, it can actually be more harmful for the smoker.”
There are more than 4,000 toxic chemicals inhaled when smoking cigarettes and hand rolling tobacco, many of which are carcinogenic and poisonous.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, England’s Chief Medical Officer, said: “While many smokers know the damage cigarettes do to their hearts and lungs, they are much less likely to be aware of how harmful smoking is to the body – essentially ‘rotting’ it from the inside out, and roll-ups are no exception.
“January is a time when many people make New Year’s resolutions to improve their health and try to stop smoking.
Millions of people have used Smokefree support and we are hoping that this year, even more will take advantage of the free expertise and resources on offer.”
People are up to four times more likely to succeed with local NHS Stop Smoking Service support.
See your local pharmacy or GP, or call the Tees NHS Stop Smoking Service on (01642) 383 819. People can also visit nhs.uk/smokefree for free online quitting tools.