A HARD-HITTING campaign warning how smoking rots the body is targeting the thousands of people who continue to light up across the borough.
Public Health England hopes to take advantage of those looking to quit the habit as part of their new year’s resolution by demonstrating the impact tobacco products have on the wider body, rather than just the heart and lungs, through a series of graphic adverts.
In Redditch 20.1 per cent of the adult population smoke – more than 13,000 people – rising to 37 per cent amongst routine and manual workers.
Between 2011 and 2013 smoking accounted for 349 deaths in the borough with 142 of those from lung cancer and 37 from heart disease.
But the new campaign goes further to show how ingredients in cigarettes target all parts of the body, causing a slow and steady decline similar to rotting.
Smoking does significant damage to the musculoskeletal system leading to increased risk of back and neck pain, including a 79 per cent increase in chronic back pain and a 114 per cent increase in disabling lower back pain. It is also a significant cause of rheumatoid arthritis.
Smokers are 59 per cent more likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease and the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which affects the sight, between 78 per cent and 358 per cent.
Although the number of smokers is falling in Redditch, with about 22,000 people aged over 18 now counting themselves as an ex-smoker, health bosses are keen to support more people to ditch the habit.
Dr Lola Abudu, public health consultant for PHE West Midlands, said: “Most smokers know the damage cigarettes do to their heart and lungs, however they are much less aware of how harmful smoking is to other parts of the body, including bones, muscles, brain, teeth and eyes.
“There is no safe level of smoking, but we know that stopping smoking can be very challenging, however people are four times more likely to quit with the help of Stop Smoking Services. That’s why we are encouraging smokers to get support.”
Residents are most likely to light up in Woodrow where 34.5 per cent of the adult population smoke, followed by Church Hill on 32.7 per cent and Central Ward, which includes Smallwood, on 30.1 per cent.
Anyone wanting to quit can get help by searching for Smokefree online, visiting www.nhs.uk/smokefree or calling 0800 022 4332.