Public Health England is today launching a campaign to highlight the damaging effect smoking has on the heart, as it is revealed that 45 people a day die of cardiovascular disease (CVD) caused by smoking – over 16,500 a year in England.
CVD includes all diseases of the heart and circulation – including heart attacks and strokes. The disease is one of the main causes of death and disability in the country and quitting has been identified as the single best thing a smoker can do to protect their heart.
CVD is usually associated with the build-up of fatty deposits clogging up the arteries, known as atherosclerosis, that can block the flow of blood to vital organs and eventually cause fatal heart attacks and strokes.
Smoking increases the risk of heart disease by about a quarter and doubles the risk of heart attack or a stroke. Smoking prevalence in the South West is currently at 15.5%.
The latest hard-hitting campaign from PHE coincides with the first year when all cigarettes sold in the UK will be in standard packs with all attractive branding removed.
The packs, which will be mandatory from May, feature graphic picture and text health warnings, several of which illustrate how smoking causes cardiovascular disease and death.
Public Health England insights show that the two biggest motivators for smokers to quit are for their health and their families.
PHE has released a new, emotive short film featuring children’s TV doctor Dr Ranj Singh working with primary school children in Coventry, to create their own heartfelt messages about the dangers of smoking. The messages, inspired by the introduction of standard packs, focus on the damage smoking does to the heart and circulatory system.
Russ Moody, Health and Welbeing Programme Lead for Public Health England South West, said: “We know smoking causes serious illnesses and death, but we also know that quitting will eventually lead to a much reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.
“The Health Harms campaign will feature a lot of dramatic images of the damage tobacco smoking will cause; if that inspires anyone to quit there is a lot of local help available to them to break the habit.”
Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, said: “Smoking is the biggest cause of premature death in England, accounting for almost 78,000 deaths a year. For every death caused by smoking approximately 20 smokers suffer from a smoking-related illness.
“However, you can change this. Stopping smoking will have a dramatic positive impact on your health and the health of those around you, especially children, and is the single best health decision you can make this new year.”
Dr Ranj Singh, TV and NHS doctor said: “The new film featuring primary school children really brings home the damage that smoking does to your cardiovascular system.
“Most people are well aware of the effects of smoking on the lungs, but are less aware of the awful impact it also has on the heart and arteries. We know that many people quit smoking for their family, and this film shows just how passionately children want to protect the health of smokers and want to help them quit.”
The campaign launches on 30th December with TV and digital advertising showing NHS Smokefree ‘Rotten Roll-up’ and ‘Mutations’ adverts, which highlight the serious damage that cigarettes can cause.
The campaign encourages smokers to search ‘Smokefree’ online for free quitting support and tools.