Halifax road dubbed ‘Quitters Street’ as neighbours join forces to stop smoking

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A Halifax road has been dubbed ‘Quitters Street’ by stop smoking specialists after a group of neighbours joined forces to give up tobacco for good.

Three people holding vapes.
The group outside Laura Mitchell Health and Wellbeing Centre. Photo courtesy of Yorkshire Cancer Research.

With the support of Yorkshire Smokefree Calderdale and Yorkshire Cancer Research, the residents have significantly improved their health and saved money by making the switch from smoking to vaping.

Neighbours Lorna, Sue and Clifford, who have all swapped smoking for vaping with the support of Yorkshire Cancer Research and Yorkshire Smokefree Calderdale. Vaping is much less harmful than smoking and the health benefits of switching from tobacco can be felt within hours.

The neighbours, who all live in the Warley area of Halifax, have also found a new lease of life with the money they are saving, organising trips to places in Yorkshire they’ve never been to before and doing up their homes.

Clifford Byram-Leech, 68, who started smoking at just 11 years old, said: “I had a partner for 23 years who died of cancer caused by cigarette smoking, and I saw what he went through. When he wasn’t very well, I gave up smoking for six months, but when he died, I started smoking again because of the stress.

“This time, when I gave up for good, it was because my friends said I should do it, and that it would be good for my health if I did. My neighbours pushed me into coming to the support service for peer support, which was the best thing they could have done for me. I didn’t feel strong enough in myself to do it alone.”

Clifford joined his neighbours Sue Jackson and Lorna Morris in seeking support from Yorkshire Smokefree Calderdale, which is a community stop smoking service commissioned by Calderdale Council.

The service, delivered by South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and funded by Calderdale Council, provides a choice of group, telephone, or one to one support to quit smoking.

In addition to Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), such as patches and gum, free vaping starter kits are currently being offered through a programme funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research. According to Lindsey Noel, Senior Stop Smoking Advisor, vaping has proved to be a popular option since the programme was introduced in March.

She said: “People are finding it easier to quit by using a vape. I think it’s because of the way the nicotine is delivered into the body. The action of vaping also feels similar to smoking, so it doesn’t feel too much of a change in routine.

“Vaping products help us reach people who have tried quitting with NRT in the past and have failed. Some people need multiple attempts to quit for good. For these people, we’re having success with the vapes where NRT has not worked in the past, so it’s fantastic. We can offer more people a smoke-free future.”

Sue said: “One of my doctors told me about the vaping programme. I was inspired by the fact that Yorkshire Cancer Research and the NHS were endorsing it. It gave me confidence. Within days I had my vape and my e-liquids, and I haven’t had a cigarette since. I went onto the e-liquid with the lowest level of nicotine, but I’ve found I don’t even want a cigarette.

“Smoking was not doing my health any good at all. I used to get off the bus and walk along the street to get home, and I couldn’t breathe halfway. I even went to A&E once. Since I’ve stopped smoking, I can breathe a lot better.

“Since quitting, I’ve been much more active, going places I’ve never been before. I’ve lived in Halifax all my life, but I’d never seen York or Bridlington. The group of us who’ve all stopped have been going out and doing all these things together. It’s been marvellous.”

Both Clifford and Sue have received motivation from Lorna, who decided to quit smoking at the age of 78. Lorna has a lung condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which causes restricted airflow and breathing problems.

Lorna said: “I decided to quit because people said my COPD would get worse, and I’d die. Even though I’m 78 I want to go on a bit longer with my life.

“Since I’ve stopped smoking, I’ve had more money, I’ve been happier, I breathe better and I walk better. When I first came here, I couldn’t even put two sentences together, that’s how bad it was. I was coughing all the time. Now I’m getting the nicotine, but in a much better way.”

Lorna said: “With the money I’ve saved I’ve bought new curtains and had new flooring done. The group has helped me a lot. They’ve given me the confidence to feel good about myself. They never doubted me.”

Clifford added: “I’d 100% recommend the support service. You’ve got the support of a group of people, but you can also have individual support if you need it. It becomes more of a social group than a pressure group to stop smoking. You’re supported whether you have a glitch, or you don’t have a glitch. No one will nag at you if you make a mistake because we all make mistakes.”

Sue is now hoping to stop using her vape, having gradually decreased the amount of nicotine she’s been using.

She said: “I think a lot more people could stop smoking by getting support from the stop smoking clinics. I’m hoping that at the end of the programme, I won’t even need to pick the vape up.”

Lindsey added: “The ultimate goal when people start vaping is for them to use it as long as they need it, and then to quit. The funding from Yorkshire Cancer Research has been really important. It’s a game-changer really.”

Dr Stuart Griffiths, Director of Research at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “Sadly, nearly 7,000 people in Yorkshire lose their lives to smoking every year. Quitting smoking is the single most significant action a person can take for their future health, and vaping is an effective stop smoking tool that successfully helps thousands of adults who smoke reduce their risk of cancer every year.

“Evidence shows vaping can be up to twice as effective as Nicotine Replacement Therapy in helping smokers quit. Our estimates suggest that there are nearly 4,500 additional quitters each year in Yorkshire because of these products. For this reason, we’re committed to improving access to free vaping starter kits for those who need them.”

Cllr Tim Swift, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, added: “We want all Calderdale residents to have good health and wellbeing. It’s a priority for us to work with partner organisations like Yorkshire Cancer Research to help people live well. Support to stop smoking is a key part of this.

“It’s great to hear how vaping and support from each other has helped Clifford, Lorna and Sue quit smoking and enjoy life more. It’s never too late to make positive changes. Free vape kits are available alongside group or individual support for anyone in Calderdale who wants to stop smoking, even if they have unsuccessfully tried to quit on their own or using Nicotine Replacement Therapies before.”

Although vaping products are significantly less harmful than tobacco cigarettes, they are not risk free. The health advice is clear that people who do not smoke, or who are not at risk of relapsing to smoking, should not vape.

For support to quit smoking using a vaping device or Nicotine Replacement Therapies such as patches, contact Yorkshire Smokefree Calderdale on 01422 262373 or 0330 660 1166 (free from most mobiles), or visit www.yorkshiresmokefree.nhs.uk.

Halifax road dubbed ‘Quitters Street’ as neighbours join forces to stop smoking

time to read: 5 min