For this year’s British January Smokefree campaign Public Health England (PHE) put the spotlight on COPD. The aim of the campaign is to illustrate the harm that smoking does to health, and encourage smokers to quit for good.
[source: Public Health England]
PHE released a new short film (see here and on right hand-side bar, on this website’s homepage) featuring Olympian Iwan Thomas, whose mother has recently been diagnosed with COPD. Together with 4 smokers, Iwan takes part in an experiment to illustrate the difficulties of living with advanced COPD and urges people to quit this New Year.
As part of the campaign, Joanne, 40, a long-term smoker from Newcastle, joined Iwan Thomas. After wearing a body corset and resistance breathing mask for a day to replicate the struggle for breath and tightness of the lungs and chest caused by COPD, she said: “I wouldn’t wish the disease on anyone. I am quitting smoking this January and I would urge anyone else who’s a smoker to quit with me.”
Alongside the impact on quality on life, approximately 25,000 people die each year from COPD in England: twice the European average. Around 86% of these deaths are caused by smoking.
Clinical lead for COPD at Royal Brompton Hospital, Reader in respiratory medicine at Imperial College London and medical adviser to the British Lung Foundation (member of ECC), Dr Nicholas Hopkinson, says:
“My advice to anyone who smokes is don’t ignore a ‘smoker’s cough’ or getting out of breath. Take it as a sign to quit before any damage to your lungs gets worse. If diagnosed early; changes in lifestyle, treatments such as pulmonary rehabilitation, and prescription medications can slow down the progression of the disease and help patients cope with symptoms like breathlessness and fatigue. However, there is no cure for COPD, so the single most important thing you can do to reduce the chances of getting the condition is to stop smoking completely.”