New PHE film shows children creating personal images and warnings about the damage smoking causes to convince smokers to stop.

Children warn of smoking risks in hard-hitting campaign

Public Health England (PHE) launches a campaign to highlight the damaging effect smoking has on the heart, as it is revealed that, in England, 45 people a day die of cardiovascular disease (CVD) caused by smoking. That is over 16,500 people a year. CVD includes all diseases of the heart and circulation, including heart attacks and strokes.

PHE insights show that the 2 biggest motivators for smokers to quit are for their health and their families so PHE has released a new emotive short film featuring children’s TV doctor Dr Ranj Singh. Primary school children in Coventry work with Dr Ranj to create their own heartfelt messages about the dangers of smoking. The messages focus on the damage smoking does to the heart and circulatory system.

The latest hard-hitting campaign from PHE coincides with the first year when all cigarettes sold in the UK will be in standard packs with all attractive branding removed. The packs, which will be mandatory from May, feature graphic pictures and health warnings, several of which illustrate how smoking causes cardiovascular disease and death. CVD is one of the main causes of death and disability in the country and quitting has been identified as the single best thing a smoker can do to protect their heart. CVD is usually associated with the build up of fatty deposits clogging up the arteries, known as atherosclerosis, that can block the flow of blood to vital organs and eventually cause fatal heart attacks and strokes. Smoking increases the risk of heart disease by a quarter (24%) and doubles the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, said: Smoking is the biggest cause of premature death in England, accounting for almost 78,000 deaths a year. For every death caused by smoking approximately 20 smokers suffer from a smoking-related illness. However, you can change this. Stopping smoking will have a dramatic positive impact on your health and the health of those around you, especially children, and is the single best health decision you can make this new year.

Professor Kevin Fenton, PHE National Director for Health and Wellbeing, said: It is fantastic news that there are now twice as many ex-smokers in the country as there are smokers, but that still leaves 7 million that we are urging to quit this new year.

We know that one of the main triggers that encourages people to quit smoking, alongside the health benefits, is their family. Working with children to encourage their family to quit is a new element to our annual January Smokefree campaign. I hope the childrens’ heartfelt pleas will resonate with smokers around the country to encourage them to take advantage of the free campaign tools and support available, and to make 2017 the year they quit for good.

Dr Ranj Singh, TV and NHS doctor said: The new film featuring primary school children really brings home the damage that smoking does to your cardiovascular system. Most people are well aware of the effects of smoking on the lungs, but are less aware of the awful impact it also has on the heart and arteries. We know that many people quit smoking for their family, and this film shows just how passionately children want to protect the health of smokers and want to help them quit.

The campaign launches on 30 December 2016 with TV and digital advertising showing NHS Smokefree ‘Rotten Roll-up’ and ‘Mutations’ adverts, which highlight the serious damage that cigarettes can cause. The campaign encourages smokers to search ‘Smokefree’ online for free quitting support and tools.