A HARD-HITTING campaign encouraging smokers to quit their habit has been backed by Buckinghamshire County Council.

The new Smokefree national advertising from Public Health England aims to show the damage that toxins from smoking do to the blood, lungs, heart and brain.

"It's never too late to quit smoking," confirms Director of Public Health for Buckinghamshire, Dr. Jane O’Grady. “Quitting smoking at any time is good for your health and wellbeing. As soon as you stop smoking, the health risks associated with the habit begin to reduce.

"After six months the risk of heart attack, cancer and other smoking related diseases begins to fall. After ten years the risk of lung cancer falls to about half that of a smoker, with the risk of heart attack around the same as someone who has never smoked at all."

Although many smokers have successfully quit in recent years, smoking remains the largest cause of preventable ill health and premature death. Around 600 smokers die each year as a result of their habit in Bucks.

“We know the harm that smoking can cause to individuals and their families," says Patricia Birchley, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing at Buckinghamshire County Council, "but we also know how we can help those who do smoke to make a positive change and quit.

"We have excellent smokefree support services in Buckinghamshire, and if smokers use these, they are four times more likely to quit than trying to do it alone. I'd like to appeal to smokers to get in touch with our local services and make 2014 the year that they act to stop their habit seriously damaging their health.”

The new Smokefree ad campaign seeks to reveal uncomfortable truths that show how smoking increased your chances of a heart attack or stroke, and that the toxins released can also affect the brain, leading to accelerated decline in memory and mental abilities later in life.

Contact the free Bucks smokefree support service by visiting smokescape.org, calling 0845 27 07 222 or emailing stopsmoking@buckshealthcare.nhs.uk