New Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr John Cotton gets a timely reminder of just why he quit smoking.
I’d like to start my first blog as Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing with a confession.
Last month, towards the end of an exhausting and stressful election campaign, I smoked my first cigarette for quite a while. It wasn’t a very pleasant experience. In fact it reminded me why I quit in the first place.
But, like a lot of ex-smokers, I experienced a wobble and it got me thinking about an issue that affects one in five adults across Birmingham.
Now for me to start smoking again would be a disaster on two fronts.
- My health
- My finances
The health implications are well documented. Smokers have an increased risk of:
- coronary heart disease
- heart attack
- chronic bronchitis
And then of course we have the financial implications.
I gave up my 20 a day smoking habit seven years ago.
At the time a pack of 20 cost around £5.50.
Now people are shelling out over £7 for a pack of 20.
That means that, as I write this in June, a 20-a-day smoker who successfully quit for New Year has already saved over £1,200.
I’ll repeat that staggering figure: £1,200!
I had a quick look in the window of a city centre travel agent on my way to the Council House this morning. For £1,200 a fasmily of four could enjoy a two-week holiday in a range of wonderful places, including Kos, Tenerife and Crete.
Surely, if the health benefits alone are not enough to make you quit, that’s an added incentive to anyone thinking of giving up.
I don’t plan to preach in my new role – as my lapse back into smoking shows – I have my weaknesses like everyone else.
But I will do everything I can to help people across this city make healthier choices. And the decision not to smoke is one of the best choices you can ever make. It’s certainly one of the best lifestyle changes I’ve ever made.
Smoking is one of the main contributory factors to shocking variations in life expectancy in Birmingham. There are around 185,000 smokers in Birmingham and 40 per cent of these smokers live in the most deprived wards while just 14 per cent come from the most affluent.
This takes a tragic toll. If you’re born in some parts of the inner-city you can expect to live to 75, while just up the road in Sutton Coldfield you can expect to see your 84th birthday.
Every year over 4,500 people die in Birmingham from a smoking related disease. Smoking is directly linked with Birmingham's three biggest killers, and is directly attributable to:
- 1 in 4 of all cancers,
- 1 in 5 deaths from cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke),
- 1 in 3 of all deaths from respiratory disease
Quitting smoking has been shown to have significant health benefits. Research has reported that a smoker who quits by the age of 30 years can increase their life expectancy by 10 years and quitting at the age of 50 halves the risk of smoking related mortality.
I know from personal experience that quitting is easier said than done but with help and support from our stop smoking service, you are up to four times more likely to stop for good than with will power alone.
For friendly advice and support on how to quit, go to www.bhamcommunity.nhs.uk/about-us/clinical-services/adults-and-community-services/stop-smoking/call 0800 052 5855 free or text ‘QUIT’ to 80800.