Smokers who are keen to quit can access the help they need thanks to a new service in Cheshire West and Chester.
Cheshire West and Chester Council and partner Brio Leisure have launched a stop smoking service open to anyone in the borough who needs support.
In the past this service was only available to people who were referred by their GP or a health care professional but now it is open to all.
Cllr Val Armstrong, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said, “It’s hard to quit smoking, even though people are aware that it’s an expensive habit and bad for their health.
“That’s why we’re really pleased to offer this accessible service close to home, which is based around offering personal support tailored to you.
“Our message for anyone who wants or needs to quit is that you’re not on your own and that there are friendly experts ready to guide you through it.
“Stopping smoking can add as much as a decade to your life so please don’t give up on giving up.”
In Cheshire West and Chester, 12.6% of adults smoked in 2020, which is above the England average of 12.1%.
For adults working in routine and manual jobs, this figure rises to 22.9%, which is again above the England average of 21.4%.
The stop smoking service at Brio offers up to 12 weeks of support, including free nicotine replacement therapies, to help through the early stages of giving up, followed by unlimited behavioural support to check in with people and see how they are.
Ruth Armstrong, Smoking Cessation Lead for Brio Wellbeing, said, “We are delighted to expand on our smoking cessation offer for residents across Cheshire West.
“Our team have heard some incredible success stories over the last few years and this shift will allow easier access to support as and when people feel it’s the right time for them to give quitting a go.
“One-to-one support is available in one of 18 venues across Cheshire West and Chester. Additionally, we can support residents via telephone, text, or our Facebook page.
“As well as taking some pressure off our Primary Care colleagues, this new model will also see further investment into supporting partners to have different conversations around the impact of smoking with residents too.”
Cheshire West and Chester resident Jason, 52, used the service after his partner had a heart attack and was told to quit by doctors.
“I went to a clinic as I like to put a face to a name,” he said.
“From the moment I met Alison [stop smoking practitioner] I felt comfortable, and I honestly can’t praise her enough. Alison was an inspiration and I loved the way she talked to me, I felt really supported.
“As a smoker there’s never a good time to quit. I was going away on holiday on the Monday after my first appointment. In my mind, I wouldn’t start until I was back from holidays, but after our conversation I made the decision the to stop smoking the next day.”
Jason’s tips for success include using Nicotine Replacement Therapy to help stop the cravings, as well as thinking about the savings.
Ellesmere Port resident Janice, 68, has also been helped to quit through this service.
She said, “I have smoked for 58 years, tried everything to quit over the years, acupuncture, hypnosis, patches gum, medication, nothing ever worked.
“My husband and I smoked in the house, used to keep an air freshener on the mantlepiece and would spray it before we would let anyone in, knew the house smelt and felt ashamed to let people in.
“I’ve got COPD, I live by a school and see the kids smoking, I want to go and tell them about the dangers, I was 11 when I started and am in really poor health now.
“I didn’t have much hope of quitting when I joined the stop smoking service, the adviser put my mind at rest, told me I was in the right place and she would help me. She has been so supportive, even when I had a blip. None of my family believed I could do it but she told me that with the right help it was possible.”
Janice has not smoked for more than 10 months now, and has used the money she has saved to buy a new leather three-piece suite.
“I’m not ashamed to let anyone in the house now, some relatives have since told me they stopped visiting because their clothes would smell of smoke when they left,” she said.
She added, “My advice to anyone is get the help that’s out there, I’m so grateful for the help I have had and if I can do, believe me, anybody can.”
For more information about the service and how to access support visit: cheshirechangehub.org or call 0300 777 0033.
Image: Jonathan Kemper