SMOKERS in the borough are being warned by health chiefs of the increased risk off suffering a stroke.
Public Health England are so concerned with smoking rates in Wigan and across the North West that they have launched a new campaign aimed at spelling out the dangers.
In Wigan alone, one in five people still smoke and the new awareness scheme will include TV adverts after researchers found that smokers in the region are twice as likely to die from a stroke.
They say that while the harms of smoking to the heart and lungs are increasingly well known and understood, health officials will draw attention to the way chemicals such as arsenic and cyanide can damage cells in the brain – increasing the risk of stroke, but also of cognitive decline and dementia.
England’s chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, said that she was “extremely worried” that people were still underestimating the health risks of smoking, despite it being the single biggest cause of premature deaths, with one in two smokers dying early because of diseases related to their habit.
The new TV advert will “bring to life the toxic cycle of dirty blood” caused by inhaling cigarette smoke.
Andrea Crossfield, chief executive of Tobacco Free Futures North West, said: “Addiction to tobacco is still Wigan’s biggest killer with half of all long term smokers dying from their dependence.
“Smokers who stop this January will notice immediate health improvements including a better sense of smell and taste and have more energy.
“Longer term, ex-smokers reduce their risk of stroke, heart disease and lung cancer as well as protecting others from second hand smoke.”
There are around 152,000 strokes in the UK every year – one every five minutes.
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, causing brain cells to be damaged or die.
Joe Korner, of the Stroke Association, said: “The more you smoke, the more your risk increases
“Stopping smoking is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your risk of stroke.”