A South Shields grandmother says she has saved thousands of pounds already this year after quitting smoking following four decades of lighting up.
Figures released by anti-smoking group Fresh ahead of this year’s Stoptober campaign show that in 2017 nearly 400,000 smokers in England quit successfully.
That’s the equivalent to 1,069 smokers each day - or one person every 80 seconds.
Despite new smokers taking up the habit and ex-smokers relapsing, North East smoking rates have fallen by 44% since 2005.
Then, 29% of North East adults smoked, compared to 16.2% of people in 2017 – around 250,000 fewer people smoking.
Mum-of-two Deborah Davison, from South Shields, quit in January after 40 years as a smoker.
With the help of an e-cigarette, she says she has noticed significant improvements to her health and has saved more than £2,000.
She has also taken up a new hobby – knitting – providing her with a welcome distraction to smoking.
Ahead of this year’s Stoptober campaign, Deborah, who works as a physiotherapy assistant at South Tyneside District Hospital, said: “I began smoking aged 15 due to peer pressure – everybody was doing it.
“I tried to quit around 15 years ago, but after a few months I started smoking 20 cigarettes a day again.
“Before I stopped smoking I was getting very short of breath; now I can walk up three flights of stairs at work fairly easily.
“I always had a cough; now I don’t have to cough my lungs up on a morning, and I rarely cough at all during the day.
“Generally I feel much better, and a number of people have noticed a difference in me.
“With the money I’ve saved I’ve been able to buy things for my grandchildren without waiting for pay day to come around, and when my son started a new job and needed a new bus pass I was able to buy it for him.
“I have helped my daughter purchase school uniforms for her children, and it’s great to be able to support them.
“I’m planning to treat myself next year and go on holiday to somewhere hot and exotic.”
Coun Tracey Dixon, lead member for independence and wellbeing at South Tyneside Council, said: “The number of people smoking in the borough has reduced in the last five years, but it is a sad statistic that almost 400 people still die in South Tyneside each year as a result of smoking.
“Quitting smoking is the single biggest thing you can do to improve your health, and Stoptober is the perfect time to make that resolution to quit.
“While we would urge people to seek out the support of stop smoking services, vaping can also be an effective tool in helping people to kick the habit.
“For more help and advice, check out the Change4Life information on our website at www.change4lifesouthtyneside.co.uk.”
Advice on quitting smoking is available by calling the South Tyneside Stop Smoking service on 0191 424 7300, or visiting www.southtyneside.gov.uk/article/35947/Stop-smoking