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Helping smokers to quit or switch

Helping smokers to quit or switch

Stopping smoking is the single best thing anyone can do to improve their health and significantly reduce the risk of developing over 16 types of cancer, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), stroke, and protect loved ones from breathing in secondhand smoke. Fresh supports local colleagues providing support to smokers and we raise awareness about the harm of smoking and benefits of quitting all year round.


People smoke for the nicotine but die from the tar and thousands of other toxic chemicals contained in tobacco smoke. There is no such thing as a safe cigarette and even smoking a few cigarettes a day increases the risks significantly.


Our work


Fresh brings together the local commissioners of Stop Smoking Services in the North East and encourages the most effective evidence based support to be made available to local smokers. These services have helped hundreds and thousands of local smokers to quit for good over the last two decades and have played an important role in efforts to reduce smoking. For individual smokers, the best chance of stopping for good is to have face-to-face specialist support alongside an approved stop smoking aid. We do also know that thousands of smokers stop unaided each year or quit with the help of an electronic cigarette, and it's important to send a consistent positive message to all smokers to try to stop at least every year and never give up on quitting. Quitting smoking brings health benefits at any age.


A smokefree NHS 

Smoking is a chronic relapsing long term condition and NHS England has set a priority for the NHS to play to greater role in supporting smokers to quit. Here in the North East, an objective has been set for all trusts to be smokefree by 2019.


A smokefree NHS is about more than smokefree grounds. It means supporting all smokers to quit when they are admitted as a routine part of hospital care. As well as the long term health benefits, quitting smoking reduces the risk of infection in hospital patients and speeds up wound healing.


The region has a North East Smokefree NHS/Treating Tobacco Dependency Taskforce in place which is driving progress to support the NHS to achieve the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership target of April 2019 for all the NHS to be smokefree.  There are some excellent examples of work within the North East and beyond on the role that the NHS can play.


Fresh is supporting all the Acute Trusts and CCGs in the North East to upscale efforts and fully implement NICE guidance to support smokers to stop and to ensure that we have a truly Smokefree NHS, recognising this will save lives and money. For anyone involved in Smokefree NHS work in the North East you can join our Treating Tobacco Dependency group on the Knowedge Hub.


The Royal College of Physicians has called for a significant change in the way the NHS treats smoking – ensuring all smokers are provided with support to quit from the moment they are admitted as a routine part of all hospital care. The RCP report 'Hiding in plain sight: Treating tobacco dependency in the NHS' addresses the harms and costs arising from smoking in the patients who doctors see every day, and argues for a new approach to treating their addiction. The list of recommendations including:

  • identifying smokers and supporting them to quit doubles quit rates and smokers should be  identified and receive cost-effective treatment to help them quit
  • smoking cessation should be a systematic, "opt-out" part of all NHS services, and delivered in smoke-free settings
  • allowing electronic cigarettes to be used on NHS sites to support smokers to remain smoke-free and help to sustain smoke-free policies
  • training in smoking cessation should be introduced into all healthcare professional training


Mental Health

The two Mental Health Trusts in the North East made a commitment back in 2014 to upscale efforts to address smoking and have shown leadership in their approaches. It is an alarming fact that whilst smoking rates have fallen significantly over the last 20 years, they have remained stubbornly high among those with poor mental health and around 1 in 3 cigarettes are currently smoked by someone with a mental health condition.


There are also excellent resources on smoking and mental health through the national Smoking and Mental Health Partnership of which Fresh is a member:



A particularly challenging area is maternal smoking and we recognise the importance of supporting pregnant smokers and their partners to stop as soon as possible. In recent years we have led on some ground breaking work to systematically address this issue which has resulted in a more rapid decline in maternal smoking rates, but with around 16% of North East mothers still smoking when they have their baby, we still have a long way to go.  An evaluation of this work found that pregnant women are almost twice as likely to quit smoking if they are supported from their first midwife appointment – and then are more likely to have heavier, healthier babies. You can read more about this work here


There are excellent resources on smoking and pregnancy through the national Smoking in Pregnancy Challenge Group of which Fresh is a member:


Support to quit

If you're a smoker looking for support to quit, visit NHS Smokefree for tips and advice, free tools to help you quit and details of local stop smoking support.