A new hard-hitting campaign has been launched to warn about the dangers of smoking.
Two former smokers and cancer survivors have made personal appeals in a graphic quit smoking campaign that urges smokers to stop and reduce their risk.
Maggie Bratton was diagnosed with mouth cancer at the age of just 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.
And Tony Osborne was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer when he was 52. Surgeons removed much of the inside of Tony’s neck, including his voice box, leaving him with a hole in his throat through which he had to learn to breathe and talk again.
The campaign, from Fresh, is supported by Cancer Research UK.
Figures in the north east estimate that smoking causes more than 2,400 new cases of cancer a year and over 2,140 deaths from cancer every year.
Ailsa Rutter OBE, director of Fresh, said: “Tony and Maggie are two incredibly brave people who want their experiences of smoking to be heard. They don’t want other people to have to go through the pain and the life-limiting surgery that they went through.
“Tony and Maggie’s stories do not make comfortable viewing, but campaigns are one of the most powerful ways to encourage people to stop and young people not to start in the first place.
“Smoking causes 16 types of cancer, as well as heart disease, COPD, stroke, dementia and diabetes.”
Prof Eugene Milne, director of public health, Newcastle City Council said: “Local authorities in the north east are committed to taking action to reduce smoking rates further and to build upon the solid progress over the last decade. Campaigns like this have been pivotal in helping smokers to stop and to stay stopped.
“Our local stop smoking services can provide smokers with free and effective support to stop smoking and are also very happy to support smokers to quit who may wish to use an electronic cigarette.”
Dr Tony Branson, clinical lead for the Northern Cancer Alliance, said: “Every cigarette pumps harmful chemicals into the lungs and around the body. Many of these are known to damage DNA, stick to cells, harm cell repair and cause cancer.
“Although treatment for many cancers has improved enormously, many patients find it hard to speak clearly, swallow, eat or function normally again.
“Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for your health and it is crucial to stop for good as soon as possible.”
For more information on smoking and cancer, and how tobacco smoking causes cancer, visit www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/smoking-and-cancer/smoking-facts-and-evidence#smoking_facts2