Hard-hitting quit smoking campaign launches in Greater Manchester aiming to create a smokefree city-region – Make Smoking History

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Hard-hitting quit smoking campaign launches in Greater Manchester aiming to create a smokefree city-region

A new hard-hitting quit smoking campaign launches from Greater Manchester Integrated Care Partnership, as part of wider ambitions to become a smokefree city-region by 2030.

Bride looking sad reading letter from her deceased father.

The 'What Will You Miss’ campaign, features on TV, radio, and social media, as well as across Greater Manchester boroughs – with a stark message for residents that data suggests up to two in three smokers will die early if they don’t take the steps to quit.

It comes as the Government has launched a UK-wide consultation to stop the start of young people taking up smoking and end the harm it causes. Additional funding has been announced for mass media campaigns across the country and the new Greater Manchester campaign highlights the importance of hard-hitting health messages for people to make changes to quit smoking.

In Greater Manchester, it’s estimated that around 5,700 people die each year from smoking-related illnesses[i], with 150,000 smokers living in ill-health and almost 15,000 out of work due to smoking-related Illness[ii]. As part of NHS Greater Manchester’s Make Smoking History programme, free, personalised support is offered for residents who smoke – including 24/7 access to trained stop smoking advisors via the Smoke Free App, which has helped 1 million people to quit smoking to date.

Dr Matt Evison, Clinical Lead for Greater Manchester’s tobacco control programme Make Smoking History, said: “Most people who smoke get addicted as children and desperately want to stop. This new campaign emphasises that people who smoke won’t escape its harms.

“As a respiratory consultant, I sadly see the impact of smoking every day and I know what it’s like to tell someone that they won’t see their child or grandchild grow up, get married, and enjoy all the things they’re most looking forward to. There is no greater thing that someone can do for their health than stop smoking.”

The campaign is backed by Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, who said: “Smoking is the biggest cause of preventable death and ill-health in Greater Manchester – with everyone knowing someone who has been affected by the repercussions of tobacco.

“That’s why we want to do everything we can to deter young people from even trying a cigarette and in turn, preventing a possible lifetime of addiction and illnesses like cancer and heart disease.

“Tobacco harms our communities, NHS and economy, so we are committed to creating a healthier, smokefree future for everyone within Greater Manchester and support the government’s consultation as we work together to tackle inequalities in smoking prevalence and smoking-related harms.”

There is no greater thing that someone can do for their health than stop smoking

Paul Dennett, Chair of Greater Manchester Integrated Care Partnership Board and Deputy Mayor for Greater Manchester, said: “In Greater Manchester, we have sought to make smoking history since 2018, to improve health inequalities and drive smoking prevalence down. The rates are going in the right direction, but 14% of adults in the city-region still smoke regularly, so we need to continue do everything we can to encourage people to quit smoking and achieve our smokefree ambition.

“It’s important that we raise awareness of the vast, free and personalised support available and the ‘What Will You Miss’ campaign is one way we can help to share this message far and wide.”

Hazel Cheeseman, Deputy Chief Executive of ASH, said: “While most smokers know they are risking their health few fully understand just how risky smoking is nor the impact getting ill will have on those around them. The Prime Minister’s commitment to create a smokefree generation will have been a wake-up call for many and campaigns like this will further encourage smokers to quit. This is a vital part of a strategy to make smoking history.”

Dr Ian Walker, Cancer Research UK’s Executive Director of Policy and Information, said: “Smoking is the biggest cause of cancer in the UK, causing 150 cases every day. It has a huge impact on people’s lives, the NHS and economy. But it’s important to remember that it’s an addiction. Most people who smoke have tried to quit at least once and regret ever starting, but they need encouragement and support to reach their goal. That’s why campaigns like this are so important.

“We welcomed the Prime Minister’s commitment to raising the age of sale on tobacco products, alongside critical funding for mass media campaigns like this and smoking cessation services. This is vital to create a future which is smokefree, where people live longer, healthier lives.”

Quitting smoking can be difficult, so Make Smoking History have provided some tips on how to increase your chances of success:

  • Use the Smoke Free app. This free app provides 24/7 support at the touch of a button.
  • You’re much more likely to quit for good with help than relying on will power alone. So make the most of local advice and support services in your area.
  • Try switching to e-cigarettes or vapes. Many smokers have quit by making the switch.
  • Nicotine replacement therapy (or NRT) can help combat cravings when you first stop smoking. Products can be bought over the counter or from your pharmacist, and in some cases, they are even available free or on prescription from your local stop smoking service or GP.

Find free, personalised support to stop smoking in Greater Manchester or call the NHS Stop Smoking Helpline on 0300 123 1044. 

If you live in Greater Manchester, you can get six months access to all features on the app for free. Find out more.


[i] Action on Smoking and Health, Ready Reckoner 2023

[ii] Action on Smoking and Health, Smoking, Employability and Earnings 2020

[iii] Action on Smoking and Health, Smoking, Employability and Earnings 2020