Smoking kills 5000 NZers annually

Five thousand New Zealanders die each year from smoking, which is the equivalent to losing a town the size of Alexandra.

This is one of six stark facts presented by a new anti smoking campaign, Face the Facts, developed by the Health Sponsorship Council and the Ministry of Health.

The other five are:

* All cigarettes are deadly.

* Nicotine replacement therapy is safe and doubles your chance of quitting.

* Kids who have a parent who smokes are three times more likely to become smokers.

* Smoking robs you of 15 years of life.

* Roll your own cigarettes are just as deadly as tailor made cigarettes.

Oncologist David Hamilton, who works at Wellington Hospital, said he lost patients every week to smoking-related cancers.

It was hard to comprehend such a large number of needless deaths, which annually were the equivalent to 14 passenger-laden 747s crashing each year with full loss of life, he said.

"Unnecessary suffering and loss of life on this scale is terrible - especially as the cause of these deaths can be avoided."

He had seen patients with lung cancer aged in their 20s to their 90s, Dr Hamilton said.

"Most patients with smoking-related cancers are 40 upwards - people who should still have decades of life left, but instead face leaving behind friends and family, much too early."

People had a limited knowledge of the harms of smoking, research showed, and smokers underestimated their own personal level of risk of developing smoking-related diseases.


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