SMOKERS in the borough are being reminded today that they face a one in two risk of being killed by their addiction as the ‘Don’t Be The 1’ quit smoking campaign launches.

A new survey has found that hundreds of thousands of smokers in Greater Manchester are massively under-estimating the risks of their addiction ending their life early.

The campaign launched by the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership highlights the devastating effects of addiction on smokers and their families and how quitting will cut the odds straight away.

Eighteen per cent of people in the borough are smokers - almost 400,000 people - the ambition of the campaign is to reduce the smoking rate to 13 per cent by 2021.

The campaign is being backed by ex-smokers and their families, many of whom have lost someone close through smoking or have come dangerously close themselves to being ‘the one’.

Leigh Webber, a 55-year-old teaching assistant from Timperley was a former heavy smoker and was diagnosed with lung cancer this time last year. She was successfully treated at Wythenshawe and is now in remission. Her consultant attributes the successful treatment partly to the fact that Leigh had given up smoking and got fit before her cancer diagnosis.

Leigh is an extremely keen runner as a member of Chorlton Runners and has gone from smoking 20 a day and eating junk food to being one of the best runners in her age group.

Another ex-smoker, Michael Brady, 66, finally quit his long-term habit after being very close to death in hospital with COPD (breathing difficulties) and emphysema, he was also later diagnosed with early stage lung-cancer.

Dad-of-one Michael is now in remission from his cancer, and while he still struggles with breathlessness his condition has massively improved. He now gets out and about more, using his Old Trafford season ticket as much as possible and riding his electronic bike. He says quitting smoking has given him a much welcome extension to his life.

He said: “It’s a powerful addiction and for me it was a long one. But after the cancer diagnosis I had to give up, and even though it was really hard to do, I did it. I will never pick up another cigarette.”

In 2018, Greater Manchester’s residents will be asked to comment on how best to protect and improve the health of the region, by having their say on ‘Making Smoking History in Greater Manchester.’ with a number of initiatives happening across the year to reduce the number of smokers.

Sarah Price, director of population health for the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said: "Smoking is highly-addictive and much more harmful than most people think. These odds show just how important it is that people who smoke consider what they are risking.

“It might be tempting to think ‘this won’t happen to me’ but we are urging people to think about the impact their smoking could have on the people who love them.

"Quitting might not always be easy and there are more ways to quit than ever before. Quitting lowers your risk of dying early at any age, but the sooner you quit smoking completely the better.”

Figures of a pre-campaign survey of Greater Manchester smokers showed:

• More than nine out of ten smokers (92%) underestimated the one in two risk of dying of a smoking-related disease

• 61% of these estimated the risk of dying from smoking as one in ten or less

• Nine out of ten found the true statistic of one in two worrying

• 85% of smokers say that loved ones worry about them smoking

• 82% of smokers wish they had never started

• Only one in ten smokers said they don’t want to stop smoking.

For more information visit DontBeThe1.TV