MAJOR steps have been made in the fight to eradicate smoking in Swindon as 1,200 people quit last year after seeking help from the town’s Stop Smoking service.

The programme, run by social enterprise SEQOL on behalf of the local authority, was launched to provide guidance and on-going support to smokers hoping to give up the lethal habit before it is too late.

Smoking remains the single biggest cause of preventable disease and premature death in Swindon and nationwide.

An estimated 1,700 residents suffer from a smoking-related disease each year.

This year alone, it is forecast that smoking will cost 260 lives in Swindon.

Second-hand smoke exposure is also responsible for 500 childhood diseases each year in the town.

While the journey to a smoke-free life was daunting, filled with doubts and fear of relapse, the outcome has been life-changing for Maureen New, whose health hung in the balance when she stepped into Carfax Centre’s Stop Smoking clinic in September last year.

“I went to see a vascular surgeon who said I had a blocked artery in my leg and advised me to stop smoking otherwise it could affect my heart,” said the 65-year-old from Walcot.

“It was a wake-up call. I needed it. I just hadn’t wanted to know about the risks before.

“I smoked a pack a day and if I went out at night I would smoke even more.

“Looking back I don’t even know why I smoked anyway; I didn’t even like it or the taste of it but it’s just so addictive.”

The kidney cancer survivor had tried to quit on her own three times since she started smoking at the age of 18 but never succeeded until she joined the 12-week programme in 2013.

“I had tried to stop but I couldn’t do it on my own,” she added. “I needed the help and advice. My advisor Helen was supportive. I was given patches and I could call her if I needed to.

“The hardest was the urge to have a fag. But I never gave in. I never thought I would be able to quit but I am glad I did it.

“I wish I had done it before because I would not have had this problem with my arteries.”

Whether they are prescribed medication such as Champix to block receptors craving cigarettes or nicotine replacements like patches, receiving support is key to quitting for many.

And Stop Smoking advisors are urging smokers to seek their help to give up tobacco.

“We have got advice to hand and we have seen what has worked with others,” said Christine Gresham, team administrator support and trained Stop Smoking advisor.

“One in two smokers will lose their life early due to smoking which is dreadful.

“And there is the risk of exposing children to it. We certainly encourage people, if they smoke, to do it outside but the chemicals linger on their clothing for 20 minutes so if they then take their children on their knee or cuddle them they are exposed as well. You are never too old to try or to young to try and we are here to support people all the way.”

  • For more information and free help to quit contact Swindon Stop Smoking service on 0800 3892229 or 01793 465513, text 07881281797 or email