SMOKERS in the south west have been urged to quit by the region's deputy director of public health as new figures show the impact of smoking on teenagers.

Amid the launch of a new Government campaign encouraging smokers to quit in January, Professor Mike Wade described quitting as "one of the best things you can do for your health" and to protect others. 

His comments accompany today’s launch of the Better Health Smoke Free campaign, which will encourage smokers to quit as doctors warn of the issues facing smokers’ children.

Analysis by the campaign found that teenagers whose parents smoked are four times more likely to take up the habit than teenagers whose parents did not smoke. 

The campaign has reported that 4.9 per cent of teenagers whose main caregiver smoked have taken up smoking, compared to 1.2 per cent whose main caregiver did not smoke.

It also found that early teenagers whose main caregiver smoked were more than twice as likely to have tried cigarettes than teenagers whose caregiver did not smoke (26 per cent compared to 11 per cent). 

As part of the campaign, the NHS has released a film where health experts discuss the link between adult smoking and the likelihood of children in their household becoming smokers.

Somerset County Gazette: "TANGIBLE IMPACT": In a campaign film released today, smoking cessation experts call on parents in particular to quit to set a good example to their children (Image: Gareth Fuller, PA Wire)"TANGIBLE IMPACT": In a campaign film released today, smoking cessation experts call on parents in particular to quit to set a good example to their children (Image: Gareth Fuller, PA Wire)

In the video, Imperial College London smoking cessation experts Professor Nick Hopkinson and Dr Anthony Laverty, family GP Dr Nighat Arif, and child psychologist Dr Bettina Hohnen call on parents to give up smoking for their new year’s resolutions.

Professor Hopkinson said: “Our research findings are clear – adult smoking has a tangible impact on children. 

“Children whose caregivers smoke are four times as likely to take up smoking themselves. 

“The most effective way to help prevent this would be for adults to quit smoking. 

“Clearly, not only does this have enormous benefits for them, but it will also benefit their children both now and in later life.”

Professor Wade, deputy regional director of public heath in the south west, said: “If you are a smoker, quitting is one of the best things you can do for your health, allowing you to start moving better, breathe more easily and save money. 

“If you can stop smoking for 28 days, you are five times more likely to stay smoke free for good.

“Smoking damages the lungs and airways, making it harder to breathe. 

“Each cigarette fills our lungs with toxins which harm the immune system and leave us more vulnerable to infections. 

“Stopping smoking brings immediate benefits to health, including for people with an existing smoking-related disease, so it’s never too late to quit.

“By stopping smoking, you'll be protecting the health of your non-smoking friends and family, too. 

“If you want to quit smoking for your family or for your own health this January, Better Health has a range of proven NHS support and advice to help.”

Maggie Throup MP, parliamentary under secretary of state and minister for vaccines and public health, explained why the campaign is launching now. 

She said: “We know that many people make a quit attempt in January, and while there are so many good reasons to stop smoking for yourself, we hope that this new campaign - by highlighting the inter-generational smoking link with parents influencing their children - will be the added motivation many need to ditch the cigarettes for good this year. 

“With so much help and support available for parents, carers and anyone looking to quit - including the NHS Quit Smoking app, support on Facebook, daily emails and texts, and an online Personal Quit Plan - you won’t be alone in your New Year’s resolution.”