A HARD-HITTING campaign launches in Dorset today highlighting the devastating impact of tobacco on smokers and their loved ones.

The ‘Be There Tomorrow’ campaign urges smokers to quit now.

In Dorset, an estimated 108,840 adults still smoke (in Dorset 57,810, Bournemouth 29,270, and Poole 21,760) and, in the coming year, around 1,295 are predicted to die of smoking-related disease (in Dorset 755, Bournemouth 290, and Poole 250).

A survey in Dorset, carried out by Smokefree South West, reveals shocking levels of ignorance about the dangers of smoking. Less than one in 10 knew smoking-related diseases kill one in two smokers while almost a quarter believed the risk was smaller at one in 10 smokers.

The campaign aims to encourage people to quit for their families and loved ones as well as their own health to avoid a premature death.

Director of Smokefree South West Fiona Andrews said: “This new campaign is based on a fact that is not well known among the public that one in every two long-term smokers will die early of a tobacco related disease.

“We know that most smokers want to quit but often put it off until it’s too late to avoid serious damaging disease or early death. We all know smoking kills but somehow we think it will kill ‘other people’ not us.

“However, in the last five years, 108 million fewer cigarettes have been smoked in Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole which is an estimated saving of a staggering £36.5 million on cigarettes or £20,482 per day.

“The trick is to keep setting a date to go smokefree. Powerful campaigns that help bring home just why it is worth stopping, and then help show them how to quit, help to spur smokers on again to break free of tobacco. “We are saying to all smokers in Dorset: 1 in 2 smokers will die early of a tobacco related disease, but it doesn’t have to be that way for you.”

Director of Public Health Dorset Dr David Phillips said: “We’ve made good progress in tackling smoking in Dorset, but some groups, particularly young people, are still at risk.

“Smokers know the risks, but taking the first step to quitting can be hard. There’s plenty of support available across the county from professionals who can help and guide people through those tricky early days and months. The benefits of stopping smoking are huge, even if you have smoked for long time.”

To find out more about the campaign, information to help quitting and to find a local free NHS Stop Smoking Service visit betheretomorrow.co.uk