ONE in five people in Wigan is smoking, and unless the number drops radically, medics warn that the borough’s biggest killer could financially cripple health services.
In a desperate plea for smokers to consider quitting local health services are launching the Stoptober campaign throughout the month to try and get people to give up the habit and help prolong lives and save vital NHS funding.
Figures released by the Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Trust (BCHT) have revealed that there are an estimated 62,900 smokers in the borough – 19.8 per cent of the population.
With health budgets due to be transferred in full to the Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group (WBCCG) in April 2013, GPs are keen to warn the borough that unless measures are taken to stop smoking, other areas of healthcare may suffer as a result.
Dr Paul Turner, Consultant in Public Health for the Borough of Wigan said: “Smoking causes many health problems and, sadly, one in two smokers will die of a smoking related disease.
“As a junior hospital doctor I spent six months working on a chest ward.
“I saw first hand the devastating effects of lung damage from long-term smoking.
“The worst part was the desperation of patients and their relatives looking to me to do something to relieve their suffering and if possible save a life.
“I did all I could as did my colleagues but often it was too late.
“For this reason I fully support the Stoptober challenge.
“It is not about blame or judging people. We know that quitting smoking can be hard but help is available across the borough for people of all ages to stop smoking and I urge people to get help as soon as possible.
“Anyone who stops smoking soon feels the health benefits and their risk of a smoking related disease falls. In addition, they are financially better off too.
“It is not too late to stop.”