THOUSANDS of people in the town are suffering from potentially deadly lung diseases, new figures have revealed.
The shocking figures have shown that in 2014/15, 5,750 people in St Helens were suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which also caused 128 deaths in 2014.
Public Health England released the figures as part of a new campaign which aims to reduce the number of people suffering from COPD by encouraging smokers to quit for good this new year.
The campaign seeks to highlight the debilitating nature of serious lung diseases for which smoking is the biggest preventable cause.
Coun Jeanie Bell, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing at St Helens Council said: “I know that it can be daunting to stop smoking but with help you’re four times more likely to quit and stay quit.
“Our local stop smoking service is here to help you and you can also join together and quit with friends, family and colleagues to help you in your quit attempt.”
COPD is the umbrella term for serious lung conditions that include chronic bronchitis and emphysema and is often caused by smoking.
People with COPD have difficulties breathing, and often have a persistent cough and frequent chest infections. COPD stops many people living normal lives and doing everyday things like climbing stairs, housework or gardening; with many even unable to take a holiday because of their disease.
To highlight the impact of this progressive and debilitating disease, PHE has released a new short film featuring Olympian Iwan Thomas, whose mother has recently been diagnosed with COPD.
Together with four smokers Iwan takes part in an experiment to illustrate the difficulties of living with advanced COPD and urges people to quit this New Year.
Liz Gaulton, Director of Public Health for St Helens Council said: “This year’s campaign highlights the difficulties of living with COPD, showing how the disease affects people’s ability to be able to carry out everyday activities.
“If you smoke, quitting is the single best thing you can do for your health. The new year is a great time for a new start so why not join the many people in St Helens who are making 1 January 2016 the day they become smokefree for good.”
Help and support with nicotine products is available free from St Helens Smokefree and a new QUIT PAL app was launched on Monday.
To find out more call 01744 586247, text QUIT to 61825 or visit readytostopsmoking.co.uk.