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  1. ITV Report

Successful anti-smoking campaign re-launched

Debbie Myles, whose partner has lung disease Photo: ITV Tyne Tees

A Hartlepool mother is highlighting the devastating impact her partner's lung disease has had on their family, as a successful and hard-hitting 'stop smoking' campaign re-launches in the North East.

FRESH's 'Every Breath' campaign will run again from August 30 to show how smoking causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The campaign triggered a big rise in the number of people quitting smoking when it was first launched last autumn.

The North East has the highest rates of COPD in England, with nearly 9000 cases diagnosed in 2008 - 2009. Patients describe the later stages as feeling like they are choking or suffocating.

Debbie Myles has cared for partner Denham Thomas since he was diagnosed with COPD 16 years ago. He describes the effect is has on their lives:

Debbie Myles and her partner Denham Thomas Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

She says it has been heartbreaking to watch Denham's health deteriorate over the years:

Their story is the inspiration for one of three new radio adverts highlighting the effect on North East families.

Figures from the NHS Information Centre revealed the first phase of the campaign inspired a huge rise in the number of people quitting smoking with local NHS Stop Smoking Services during October to December 2011. There was a:

  • 17% increase in people setting quit dates through NHS Stop Smoking Services in the North East

  • 21% increase in people making it successfully to week four of their quit

Ailsa Rutter, director of FRESH, said: "The Every Breath campaign has been a real wake up call to many smokers. It was news to many people who thought that being short of breath was normal, when in many cases it is an early sign of COPD and it makes quitting even more urgent."

But smokers we spoke to in Hartlepool said the campaigns wouldn't encourage them to give up.