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Smokers 'underestimate' health damage

The majority of smokers seriously underestimate the health and financial impacts of smoking.

Research by NHS Smokefree shows 53% of smokers believe less than 10,000 people die annually from smoking related diseases in England.

The actual figure is over 80,000.

More surprisingly, one in twelve smokers surveyed do not believe smoking can seriously damage their health and lead to premature death.

Commonly held misconceptions around quitting smoking are still alive and well, suggests the survey.

A third of smokers say they feel "too stressed" to try to quit, another third believe they do not have the willpower required and 35% are being prevented from quitting because they have tried and failed before.

In a bid to kick-start many people's New Year resolutions, the Department of Health has launched an advertising campaign encouraging smokers to try a "new and improved" NHS Quit Kit from a participating pharmacy in England from 1 January 2012.

"What's clear is that the majority of smokers want to quit smoking and free NHS help is available to help them quit for good," said Public Health Minister Anne Milton.

"The new and improved NHS Quit Kit is available in chemists who are working with us across England and will give smokers who want to give up advice, information and tools to help them enjoy a healthier 2012."

The research shows smokers are also underestimating the financial costs of smoking by up to £600. With a packet of 20 cigarettes now costing an average of £6.59, a 20-a-day smoker could be spending up to £2,405 a year on their nicotine habit.

NHS Smokefree

Your comments (terms and conditions apply)

"I think this research is great. But I truly don't think hardened smokers will be prompted to quit. I used to smoke thirty a day. I gave up completely 6 years ago. No research would have made me give up, because you NEVER think it will happen to you. The only thing which does work is an appeal to emotion. For me, it was the series of TV adverts where a mother had to tell her children she was dying from lung cancer. I realised I couldn't face that. I'm afraid they wont listen to evidence; you must tug at their heart-strings." - Estelle, Wolverhampton

"Address the problem of all the chemicals in the food and drink we consume every day, then tell us why we should quit smoking. Also, as the smoking rate goes down the number of people suffering from stress goes up. When I started smoking in the 50's, stress was unheard of, and most smoked! Got it?" - Robert, Australia