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Pauline is one of thousands helped to quit smoking with help of city council

Published on Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Pauline Smith, who has successfully quit smoking with the help of the city council's Live Well service

A LEICESTER woman who smoked for nearly 60 years and was diagnosed with cancer has kicked the habit successfully using the city council’s stop smoking service.

Pauline Smith (pictured) started smoking at the age of 11 and had smoked for 57 years before a health scare gave her the incentive she needed to quit. The support she needed to stop – and stay stopped – was provided by the city council’s free Live Well service, and Pauline says it’s been invaluable to her.

Leicester City Council’s Live Well service has a team of stop-smoking advisors available to provide telephone support and treatment to help people quit. Now, in the run-up to national No Smoking Day, 10 March, Pauline is telling her story to encourage others to quit.

 “I found a lump on my breast. My mother went through breast cancer, so I’d always told myself that if I ever found a lump, I would quit,” Pauline says.

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer and told that I had to stop smoking before my operation. I went to see my GP and they gave me the number of the stop smoking service – 0116 454 4000.

“I quit immediately, using patches and a vape. That was seven months ago, and I haven’t smoked a single cigarette since.”

Pauline says she has found it much easier to quit than she expected, with the vape being a particular help. She has since gone on to refer lots of her friends to the Live Well service, who have also successfully quit.

“I can’t stress enough how valuable to me it’s been to get phone calls from Live Well,” she says. “Without that element of the support it would have been much harder, but being accountable to someone other than myself - and being reminded how well I was doing – was a real game changer.

“You’re not told off or told how to quit – instead the team listen to you and encourage you and are friendly and supportive.”

To mark national No Smoking Day, the city council will also publish its tobacco control strategy, which sets out how it will work towards achieving an ambitious Government target. The target is to reach a smoke-free generation by 2030, which means less than 5% of the population smoking.

Other key aims of the strategy include making sure every smoker has easy access to the support that is available from Live Well. Currently more than 15% of city residents are smokers, but this rate is much higher amongst some groups. As local survey data suggests 59% of Leicester’s smokers would like to quit for good, it’s important that everyone who wants to quit can get the support they may need – including, for example, people with mental health conditions, who might find it even harder to quit.

The strategy also wants to see smoke-free pregnancy for all pregnant women, and sets out its aim to continue working with maternity services to achieve this. And it highlights the importance of backing evidence-based innovations to support quitting – such as vapes – so that quitters can make an informed choice about how they want to quit.

Leicester assistant city mayor for public health, Cllr Vi Dempster, said: ““Giving up smoking isn’t easy, but I can safely say it’s a decision you’ll never regret. We know that quitting with specialist support significantly increases your chances of quitting for good. It’s a decision that has immediate benefits for your health. Within just eight hours of quitting your body’s oxygen level will return to normal and after a few days you will start to find your breathing feels easier.

“Remember Pauline’s story – it is never too late to quit.”

Since March last year, when the country went into lockdown, Live Well’s stop smoking service has engaged with 1,350 people. In the same period the Live Well service as a whole – which offers help and advice on alcohol, physical activity and weight management, as well as smoking – has had 2,429 referrals.

To find out more, visit https://livewell.leicester.gov.uk/services/stopping-smoking/ or call the Live Well service’s friendly team of advisors on 0116 454 4000.

The city council’s tobacco control strategy will be published from 10 March at: www.leicester.gov.uk/publichealthdocuments

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