Campaign calls for more help to quit smoking

Cancer survivor Maggie Bratton, who is backing Fresh's Quit 16 campaign.
Cancer survivor Maggie Bratton, who is backing Fresh's Quit 16 campaign.

A former smoker and cancer survivor is encouraging more GPs to help patients quit the habit.

Maggie Bratton was diagnosed with mouth cancer at the age of 45, resulting in an operation to remove the roof of her mouth. She now has to wear an obturator – a piece of plastic, which enables her to eat and speak.

Fresh has re-launched the Quit 16 campaign, which features the stories of Maggie and Tony Osbourne, who was diagnosed with throat cancer.

Maggie said: “The reaction to the campaign has been absolutely incredible and not what I expected.

“I have had responses from all over the world from people saying they have tried to pack in smoking since they saw my film. I would say don’t end up like me. Pack in before the dreaded cancer hits you.

“When I was a smoker, I just figured maybe there was a chance I would get lung cancer when I was older. But I didn’t ever realise the range of cancers smoking causes, or that I might get one of them in my 40s.

“A family doctor can make all the difference. GPs are the first port of call for anyone with a health concern and are in a position to prevent this happening to more people like me.”

Dr Chris Tasker, CRUK strategic GP for the Northern Cancer Alliance, said: “Cancer and lung disease doesn’t just affect people when they are old, it can affect you in your 40s and 50s and when you’re really quite young. The other thing that happens, as well as having death by cancer unfortunately, is that your quality of life can be destroyed.

“If you ask your GP or your practice they will point you in the right direction, whether it’s in the practice or the local pharmacy or stop smoking service. It is important to talk to people who smoke about why it is important to quit and the many ways nowadays people can increase their chances of success.

“The other thing we’re seeing a lot more of these days is vaping. It’s a lot less harmful to vape than to smoke. And I certainly would say if someone is a smoker, if they could switch completely to vaping instead of smoking that will be beneficial to their health.”

Ailsa Rutter OBE, director of Fresh, said: “We have had an incredible reaction to the Quit 16 campaign. There are thousands of people like Tony and Maggie who are living with a smoking-related disease and we applaud them for coming forward to share their story.

“Tony and Maggie’s stories do not make comfortable viewing, but campaigns are an important way to encourage people to stop, help people to stay quit, and give young people reasons not to start in the first place.

“Every doctor and nurse is in a unique position to help stop more people like Maggie and Tony being diagnosed in the future.”