It's not a pretty picture - Herts health chiefs spell out the grim toll of smoking-releated deaths

PUBLISHED: 17:00 01 January 2016

The serious health effects of smoking on the lungs have been known for decades

The serious health effects of smoking on the lungs have been known for decades

Archant

Every year, 1,500 people across Herts die needlessly of a condition caused by smoking - and about 440 of those deaths are due the lung disease COPD.

Now Herts County Council is backing a national campaign to highlight the debilitating nature of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in a bid to get smokers to quit for good.

Nearly 17,000 people in the county have COPD and are at risk of long term illness and premature death, and smoking is the biggest preventable risk factor.

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 often dismiss the early signs of COPD as a ‘smoker’s cough’, but if they continue smoking and the condition worsens, it can affect their ability to carry out everyday activities such as climbing stairs, housework or gardening; with many even unable take a holiday because of their disease.

People with COPD can become socially isolated as they become dependent on oxygen to survive and eventually housebound.

Teresa Heritage, Herts County Council’s cabinet member for public health, 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. January is a time when many people make New Year’s resolutions and resolving to stop smoking is the best thing you can do, not only for your health but for the health of those around you.

“Try talking to your local stop smoking service, they can advise you on all the free help and support available to quit smoking for good, which reduces the chances of developing COPD in the first place and prevents the worsening of COPD for those who already have the disease”

The council’s stop smoking team and local NHS services are available all year round and provide free support to anyone who lives or works in Hertfordshire. They can provide advice on treatment options such as nicotine replacement therapy or Champix and advice and support for smokers who are using electronic cigarettes.

Text SMOKEFREE to 80818, call 0800 389 3 998 or visit www.hertsdirect.org/stopsmoking to discuss all the options available.

For more information about improving your health in Hertfordshire visit www.hertsdirect.org/healthinherts

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