Health

Smoking rot highlighted in campaign

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Smoking "rots" the body from within, warns this year's quit smoking campaign from Public Health England (PHE).

The graphic online and print billboard adverts feature a roll-up cigarette full of decaying tissue.

While many smokers know the damage tobacco does to their hearts and lungs, they are much less likely to be aware of how harmful it can be to other parts of the body, says PHE.

Cigarettes can damage the bones, muscles, brain, teeth and eyes.

Current smokers are at double the risk of Alzheimer's disease, for example.

Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies says the adverts have been designed to shock and educate, but smoking groups branded the campaign as poisonous.

Stop the rot

The campaign also tackles common misconceptions around hand-rolled tobacco, or roll-ups. Many smokers mistakenly believe that they are safer than conventional cigarettes, says PHE.

But evidence suggests hand-rolled cigarettes are at least as hazardous as any other type of cigarette.

Yet their popularity is growing.

In 1990, 18% of male smokers and 2% of female smokers said they smoked mainly hand-rolled cigarettes. By 2013 this had risen to 40% for men and 23% for women.

Prof Kevin Fenton, National Director for Health and Wellbeing for PHE, said: "Much of the harm caused by smoking doesn't become obvious until middle age but the invisible damage can start shockingly early - even by the late teens.

"The earlier a smoker quits the better, but quitting at any age can help reverse at least some of the damage. That's why there is no time better than now to quit. Stop smoking and stop the rot."

Dame Sally said: "I think people know about the big killers - cancer, heart disease and stroke - but I don't think they realise about osteoporosis and I didn't know about fertility.

"And the doubling the likelihood of cognitive decline and Alzheimer's, I think is quite scary."

Simon Clark, director of the tobacco lobby group Forest, said: "Campaigns like this are an abuse of public money. Education has been replaced by shrill scaremongering that is often counter-productive because it's human nature to switch off when you're being nagged or shouted at on an almost daily basis."

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