Smokers offered free nicotine patches to kick the habit for 2011

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SMOKERS in 1066 Country will be offered a week’s free nicotine patches to help them kick the habit for the New Year as the town struggles under the weight of its nicotine problem.

One in four adults in Hastings smoke and a quarter of pregnant women smoke while they are expecting their babies, significantly higher than the national average. The number of people who die from smoking here is also much higher than average, and health bosses hope the Quit Kit scheme will help the thousands of people who vow to give up cigarettes as a new year’s resolution. Government figures show that two thirds of smokers would like to stop and that January is by far the most popular time of year to try.

From tomorrow, smokers will be able to go to some local chemists and get the kits, which include hints and tips as well as vouchers for nicotine patches. Health secretary Andrew Lansley hopes that up to 400,000 people will take advantage of the scheme.

He said: “Smoking costs the NHS billions every year and can cost a 20-a-day smoker around £2,000 a year, so giving smokers help to quit not only improves their health, but saves them and the NHS money.”

A spokesman for NHS Hastings and Rother said the health authorities had made good progress in helping people to quit but welcomed the Government’s New Year drive.

He said: “Hastings and Rother has one of the highest rates of quitters in the south east and we want to build on this success to support even more local people to stop smoking. Stopping smoking can dramatically increase someone’s chances of living a longer life, and committing to quitting is the first step on that journey.

“The new national scheme will further improve the services and support available to people in Hastings and Rother who want to quit.”

The Quit Kits will be available at Co-op and Whitworth pharmacies from tomorrow, at Tesco and Sainsbury’s chemists later in the week and independent pharmacies later in the year.

For information on quitting, smokers can call the East Sussex Stop Smoking Service on 0800 917 8896 or visit www.stopsmokingineastsussex.co.uk.