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Full Report: National No Smoking Day

Today is No Smoking Day and health experts are encouraging people to quit by highlighting the cost of cigarettes.

The anti-smoking charity FRESH says the average smoker would save £2500 a year by giving up.

Derek Athey from Darlington quit smoking last year and has since put the hundreds of pounds he saved on cigarettes toward helping him pass his HGV licence.

You can watch the full report from Jonny Blair below.

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No Smoking Day in the North East: Derek's story

Events are taking place across the North East to mark No Smoking Day.

It is the 30th year that the day has been held and aims to help people stop smoking.

One of those who has been persuaded to stop is Derek Athey from Darlington.

He has put the hundreds of pounds he saved on cigarettes towards helping him pass his HGV licence and quit the habit a year ago when he was diagnosed with arterial disease in his legs, caused by his smoking.

"The advice is always to quit if you can"

The Northumberland Stop Smoking Service has warned that there are still many older smokers in the region putting their lives at risk, years after the smoking ban was introduced.

The warning comes as the Government released a hard-hitting advert which shows a tumour growing out of a cigarette.

The North East has seen the fastest rate of people quitting, but the service says more people need to follow suit.

NHS anti-smoking services praised

Bob Cunningham and his family Credit: ITV

Bob Cunningham and his family has had their first smokefree Christmas in more than 20 years after he gave up the habit.

He said that he is now fitter, can taste sugar and salt better, and has hundreds more pounds to spend on his family.

He is one of more than 5,000 people who have benefited from NHS Northumbria Healthcare's Stop Smoking services.

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Health trust says services will help smokers quit

NHS Northumberland says their free services are four-times more likely to help smokers quit Credit: ITV

NHS Northumberland says smokers are four-times more likely to give up smoking if they access one of their free services.

It comes as the Government releases a new hard-hitting advert to deter people from smoking. The advert shows a smoker's cigarette growing a tumour.

Complaints spark project to clear Middlesbrough of cigarette litter

Middlesbrough residents have complained about the amount of cigarette waste in the town. Credit: ITV

A campaign to rid Middlesbrough of discarded cigarette litter will be launched in the town later today.

The initiative follows a string of complaints from residents to Cllr Habib Rehman who has said he wants to appeal to members of the public to consider other residents and the environment, and to dispose of their waste responsibly.

The campaign will be launched at Teesside University with Streetscene staff who will distribute cigarette stub pouches to students.

The team will also offer information and advice on the environmental effects of dropping cigarette litter, and the following day leaflets will be distributed in the ward on smoking-related environmental and health issues.

Newsagent backs cigarette packaging campaign

A newsagent from Tyneside has lent his support to a making packets of cigarettes plain.

The ‘Plain Packs Protect’ campaign is pushing for cigarettes to be sold in standardised packaging and is backed by organisations including FRESH and the British Heart Foundation.

But Tim Marron, from the Tobacco Retailers Association, who owns four shops in Newcastle, does not agree with the idea.

This is a fantastic opportunity for the pirates as it will make it far easier to copy cigarettes and people could be buying 20 sticks of anything. So that's a reason not to do it.

I also think if children want to smoke they will smoke. Plain packets won't make any difference.

– Tim Marron, Newcastle retailer

John McClurey has run a newsagent in Newcastle for 30 years and says the introduction of plain packets will reduce the appeal of eye-catching brands.

Currently if a child sees a packet of cigarettes behind a shop counter or in someone’s hand, they see bright innocent colours, glamorous designs and distinctive holograms – all of which appeal to children to make them think that smoking is a normal or cool thing to do.

– John McClurey, Newsagent.
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