HEALTH chiefs in Gibraltar have launched a new campaign to stop smoking after a study showed that 95% of lung cancer victims locally are or were smokers.
The Gibraltar Health Authority (GHA) said in a statement that the ‘Stoptober’ campaign was an annual event which encourages residents to quit smoking and improve their health.
It suggested people could to look for support at its Smoking Cessation Clinic, which it called ‘a valuable resource for those looking to kick the habit’.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that smoking is responsible for 85% of lung cancer cases worldwide.
But GHA Consultant Oncologist Dr Cristina Lopez Escola said the figure was higher in Gibraltar, reaching 95% of cases being current or past smokers.
The reasons for this are unclear but it is definitely a lot cheaper than most other places in the world.
“This statistic serves as a stark reminder of the harmful effects of smoking on our health, particularly the risk of developing lung cancer,” she said. “Stopping smoking is the best way to reduce this risk and significantly improve overall health.”
UK charity Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) said that more than a million people gave up smoking in 2020 because of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
It followed US research from the New England Journal of Medicine that showed smokers were 1.8 times more likely to die from the conoravirus.
Gibraltar’s Director of Public Health Dr Helen Carter said the GHA’s Smoking Cessation Clinic can help each individual kick the habit using proved methods tailored to their needs.
“Quitting smoking at any stage can lead to immediate health benefits and significantly reduce the risk of developing smoking-related diseases, such as lung cancer, heart disease, and chronic respiratory conditions,” she said.
“According to the UK National Health Service, individuals are three times more likely to successfully quit smoking when they receive support.”
“People from less advantaged groups tend to be more heavily addicted,” Oxford University Professor James Hartmann-Bryce said.
“Most people who start smoking do so as children, so by the time they are older they are often so addicted that it is incredibly difficult to quit,” he added.
Encouraging UK statistics show smoking has dropped in the last decade, especially after the introduction of electronic cigarettes.
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