Stop smoking to reduce chances of serious lung disease

Somerset County Council and Public Health England are urging people to stop smoking by highlighting the debilitating nature of serious lung disease.

Over 11,000 people in Somerset suffered with serious lung disease during 2014-15 (1)  and nearly 820 deaths in Somerset between 2012 and 2014 were attributable to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). (3)

Smoking is the biggest risk factor for developing COPD, which is another term for serious lung conditions that include chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

People with COPD have difficulties breathing, primarily due to the narrowing of their airways and destruction of lung tissue. Typical symptoms include breathlessness when active, a persistent cough and frequent chest infections.

Smokers can often dismiss the early signs of COPD as a ‘smoker’s cough’, but if they continue smoking and the condition worsens, it can greatly impact on their quality of life. Large numbers of people with COPD are unable to participate in everyday activities such as climbing stairs, housework or gardening, with many even unable take a holiday because of their disease.

Figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) show that the disease led to over 10,260 routine and emergency hospital admissions in the South West during 2013-14. (2)

Cllr. Anna Groskop, Cabinet Member with responsibility for health at Somerset County Council said: “COPD may not be well known but it can be a serious and severely debilitating disease, dramatically affecting people’s lives and leading to years of suffering.

“The single best thing a smoker can do to reduce their chances of developing this devastating disease is to stop smoking. Early in the year is a great time to quit as many other people have made New Year resolutions and are quitting now. It’s not too late to join them and stopping smoking is the best thing you can do not only for your health, but for the health of those around you.”

To highlight the impact of this progressive and debilitating disease, Public Health England has released a new short film featuring Olympian Iwan Thomas, whose mother has recently been diagnosed with COPD. Together with four smokers, Iwan takes part in an experiment to illustrate the difficulties of living with advanced COPD and urges people to quit the habit.

Free local stop smoking support is available by contacting Smokefreelife Somerset on 0800 246 1063 or 01823 765006.

Smokers looking to quit are being encouraged to search ‘Smokefree’ online or visit for the full range of free tools and support.

Notes to Editors:

1. People living a life blighted by chronic smoking related lung diseases: For NHS Somerset CCG 11,351 – figures for Prevalence in period 2014 -2015.
Health and Social Care Information Centre, Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) – 2014-15, – 2014-15,

2.PHE calculations of routine and emergency admissions for COPD, from Health and Social Care Information Centre, Hospital
Episode Statistics, Admitted Patient Care,
England – 2013-14. admi-diag-2013-14-tab.xlsx

3. Mortality figures from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. PHE Tobacco Profiles (nationally 74,635 deaths over three years – 2012 to 2014)

PHE Local Tobacco Control Profiles (2012-2014) Deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for period from 2012-2014

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