Thousands of smokers are wracked by fears of letting their loved ones down if they die early because of their habit.
A survey carried out to mark No smoking Day tomorrow reveals many smokers worry they will not live long enough to enjoy important family events, such as weddings and christenings.
Meanwhile, according to Smokefree South West, the public health body which works to cut smoking-related early death across the region, families of smokers are equally fearful about how much their loved one will miss on by dying early as a result of smoking.
Samantha McDonald, 36, from Appledore, quit thanks to help from her local NHS Stop Smoking Service and said it was the best decision she ever made.
She decided to call it a day when she and her husband wanted to start a family.
“I really enjoyed smoking and I’m not even sure I was ready to quit, but I realised if we wanted a baby it would have to stop,” she said.
Mrs McDonald cut down from 20 to just four cigarettes a day and finally felt ready to stop altogether. Two days later she discovered she was pregnant.
“I feel so much better in myself. I’ve always been a regular swimmer and can feel a huge difference in terms of how far and how fast I can go as I’ve got so much more breath.
“And the money I’m saving is fantastic. I’ve been putting it all on one side for the baby, who’s due in June and I’m so happy to say will be born into a smoke free home.”
Smokefree South West is launching a major billboard campaign entitled Be There Tomorrow, estimates that 820,000 adults in the region still smoke and, in the coming year, around 8,450 are predicted to die of smoking-related diseases.
Their survey shows that a quarter of smokers in the region fear they will let down those they hold closest by dying early.
A similar number said they worried they wouldn’t live long enough to celebrate the joy of major family events such as weddings and the births of children or grandchildren.
The research also reveals high levels of anxiety amongst the families and friends of smokers with 4 out of 10 of the region’s family and friends saying they worry their loved one will regret continuing to smoke when faced with an early death.
More than a quarter of people with a smoking relative or friend are most concerned about what they will miss out on by dying early.
An overwhelming 8 out of 10 of smokers’ families and friends the South West want them to quit.
Fiona Andrews, director of Smokefree South West, said: “This survey confirms that the fear of dying early is very real – not only amongst smokers but amongst their loved ones too.
“Whilst smokers worry about letting their family down by not being around, families worry most about what that smoker will miss out on.
“The risk is big. Half of all smokers will die early as a result of smoking. It is easy to put things off, but it doesn’t have to be this way.”