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A tug of war against larger than life cigarettes was held in Gloucester high street, with the city’s town crier joining NHS staff to do battle as part of national No Smoking Day on Wednesday 12 March.

The crier also added his voice to the day, promoting the Quit Shop on Southgate Street and reminding shoppers that a team of stop smoking advisers were offering free Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) for people wanting to quit.

This year's No Smoking Day campaign, run by the British Heart Foundation, had a 'V for Victory' theme aimed at helping smokers on the road to success, providing information, support and encouragement to put together a personal battle plan.

Alongside events in Gloucester town centre, the health information bus was stationed outside the Beechwood Arcade in Cheltenham all day with a team of health advisers offering members of the public healthy lifestyle checks and stop smoking tips with more advisors stationed at hospitals and community hospitals across the county.

Elaine Watson, from Gloucestershire NHS Stop Smoking service, said: “We had more than 200 people seek advice on stopping smoking throughout the day, which was an excellent result which highlights how many people there are who want to quit and that they recognise that using the NHS is the most effective way to do so.

"Having the towncrier with us was great fun, but there’s a serious message that we’re here to help anyone who wants to stop smoking. We have clinics all over the county where you can chat to our specialist advisers who can offer medication, advice and support, both one to one and as a group. Every person we see is treated as an individual with their own programme to follow.”

According to national research, one in five UK adults smoke (1) and, of these, around two thirds want to quit.(2) Locally, research (3) shows that 19 per cent of the population in Cheltenham smokes, the figure is 22 per cent in Gloucester and 17 per cent in the Forest of Dean, 15 per cent in the Cotswolds, 16 per cent in Stroud and 17 per cent in Tewkesbury.

Councillor Dorcas Binns, Gloucestershire County Council’s cabinet member for public health and communities, said: “My message to anyone who wants to stop smoking is give it a go, there’s lots of help available and we have a fantastic team of advisers here in Gloucestershire. You’re four times more likely to quit with the support of the NHS stop smoking team than by going it alone.”

Photo: Towncrier Alan Myatt celebrates victory over a cigarette (Elaine Watson is in the costume) outside Gloucester's Quit Shop on national No Smoking Day

The Quit Shop is at 20 Southgate Street, Gloucester, GL1 2D, and is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm, Saturdays from 9am to 4pm and on Sundays from 10am to 2pm. The shop is still offering two days of free Nicotine Replacement Therapy to smokers trying to stop, while stocks last.

There is also an evening course on a Tuesday evening from 6 to 7pm. Call (01452) 385327

Free text for advice and information: 07537 410 449

Follow on Twitter @StopSmokingGlos.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Gloucestershire-NHS-Stop-Smoking-Service
Website: www.stopsmokingglos.nhs.uk

No Smoking Day For more information and support to help you quit as well as an online forum where you can talk and get motivation and support from thousands of quitters, visit nosmokingday.org.uk

Notes:
1. BHF estimate based on latest health surveys. Nov 2013.
2. Statistics from ASH fact sheet. Facts at a glance - smoking statistics. Nov 2013.
3. Estimated local smoking prevalence based on ACORN data, accessed Dec 2013.