Stoptober –a time to quit and reduce your risk

It’s ‘Stoptober’ this month and Somerset County Council is encouraging smokers to quit to benefit their health – and help reduce the risk of catching serious respiratory infections this winter.

Smokers have an increased risk of contracting respiratory infections and are more likely to have more severe symptoms once infected. Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms and flu symptoms may therefore be more severe for someone who smokes.

Stoptober provides the information and support people need to quit smoking for 28 days, based on research that if a smoker can make it to 28 days smoke free, they are five times more likely to quit for good.

The Council’s local stop smoking service, Smokefreelife Somerset (SFLS), offers a free stop smoking service supporting Somerset residents to become smoke free.

Getting the right support can boost your chances of success by up to 4 times – Smokefreelife Somerset offer a 12-week treatment programme which focuses on supporting behaviour change. Quit Coaches are also available as part of the programme to advise on the use of licensed stop smoking medications to ease nicotine withdrawal, who may supply these products if appropriate.

Councillor Clare Paul, Somerset County Council member responsible for health and wellbeing, said: “Stopping smoking is one of the best things you will ever do for your health. There is strong evidence that smoking tobacco is generally associated with an increased risk of developing respiratory viral infections as well as cancers.

“I appeal to anyone who smokes to consider joining the thousands of others giving up this October for a healthier smoke free future.”

When someone stops smoking, they give their lungs the chance to repair and allows them to breathe easier. There are lots of other benefits too that start almost immediately when quitting.

Smoking causes damage to the lungs and airways and harms the immune system, reducing your ability to fight infection. It involves repetitive hand-to-face movements, which increase the risk of viruses, such as COVID-19, entering the body.

Gay, who was helped by the local stop smoking service, said; “I had on going chest infections, flu and a virus, I was coughing permanently and finding breathing extremely painful and I was still smoking. I was diagnosed with chronic lung disease.

“When I felt ready, I contacted Smokefreelife Somerset. I was supported by a lovely lady called Riley. I feel she has held my hand through my journey. She has a very approachable manner that I so needed. She was there to offer information and, encouragement – most of all I never felt judged by her.”

For more information about quitting smoking you can go to https://www.healthysomerset.co.uk/smokefree/  or telephone 01823 356222.