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Monday 31 May is World No Tobacco Day, the World Health Organization’s annual day of international campaigns to encourage people to quit smoking forever.

This year, smokers are being challenged to get #CommitToQuit and access to local support service to help kick off the habit.

Smokers can #CommitToQuit by making an online promise, giving their reasons why they want to live smoke-free and receiving advice and support directly from the World Health Organization.

Sue Swinson, Head of Service for the Specialist Stop Smoking Service in Stockton, said: “Since COVID-19 restrictions were introduced, we have had 1,295 smokers in Stockton alone who set a smoking cessation date or promised to quit smoking. Many have never tried to quit before and were pleasantly surprised by how quickly they were able to receive support, and often started treatment on the same day they contacted us.

“Everyone knows quitting smoking is one of the best things anyone can do for their own health, so on World No Tobacco Day we say to any smoker in the region: Now is the time to commit to quitting.”

Sue Swinson, service leader for specialist smoking cessation service in Stockton

Councilor Jim Beall, Stockton-on-Tees City Council’s cabinet member for health, leisure and culture, said: “Over the past year or so, we have all been thinking more than ever about the state of our health and quitting smoking is one of the best . things you can do for your body.

“Smokers are at greater risk of suffering from respiratory diseases, having weaker immune systems that prevent them from overcoming infections and are generally more vulnerable to poor health.

“There is free support readily available to all residents to access from the council-funded Stop Smoking service which has a proven track record of giving people the advice and help they need to change their lives for the better and to to quit smoking for good. “

Smokers in the area can also call the following numbers for practical advice and to help quit:

• Hartlepool: 01429 402814/402815
• Stockton: 01642 383819

To make a #CommitToQuit pledge, visit the World Health Organization website.

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