Humber and North Yorkshire residents visit Parliament on No Smoking Day to share their smoking survivor stories

Residents from across Humber and North Yorkshire are visiting Parliament this No Smoking Day (13 March) to tell their stories about the impact of smoking on their lives – and why parliamentarians should back proposed new legislation to create a smokefree generation.

Hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health, the event at Westminster will be attended by those who have lost relatives to smoking, people whose health has been harmed, health professionals who have cared for people sick from smoking and young people who want to grow up in a smokefree country.

Scott Crosby, Associate Director for the Humber and North Yorkshire Centre for Excellence in Tobacco Control, who will be accompanying our representatives in London, said:

This event is a brilliant opportunity for a range of people from across our region to speak directly to MPs about the ways that tobacco has wreaked havoc on their health, their families and their communities.

“With the excellent support available to help people quit for good provided by our local authority partners alongside the Smokefree Generation bill, I truly believe that this will mark a pivotal turning point in population health in Britain, the beginning of the end of tobacco harm.

“I encourage anyone who smokes and has struggled to stop, to get in touch with their local stop smoking service, which provides free support, medication, and advice. It’s surprising the difference it makes having someone to chat to and keep you on track, and they can also provide a prescription for all the nicotine replacement therapy items so you’re fully prepared.”

Gillian Cunningham, a former smoker who now works as a Tobacco Dependency Treatment Advisor at York and Scarborough Hospitals, will be attending the event. She said:

After developing COPD at a young age due to smoking and watching my mother suffer and die from lung cancer caused by smoking, I am passionate about using my experiences to help others to quit.

“Smoking has affected me, my family and the patients I work with – many of them sick in hospital because of a tobacco addiction that they are trapped in. I get such joy when I see people getting stronger, healthier and prouder of themselves every day they stay smokefree.

“I think Smokefree Generation is a brilliant idea – I wish I’d never started smoking. If the younger generations are never able to buy cigarettes, they’ll never miss them. “Smoking will, in time, become a thing of the past – which is exactly where it needs to stay; it’s killed too many people.”

Headteacher Patrick Sprakes of Malet Lambert School in Hull, who will be attending the event along with two year eleven students added:

“We speak to our pupils in detail about the effects of smoking, and in recent years the national issue of youth vaping and how products have been potentially targeted at young people to entice them into addiction.

“It has been great to see how many of our pupils feel strongly about the topic and are working as a pupil leadership team in support of the Smokefree Generation proposal.

“We are really looking forward to attending the event in London and giving our pupils an opportunity to directly speak to MPs on behalf of our school community.”

Rose Connolly, 12, from the East Riding of Yorkshire is also attending the event in Parliament to tell MPs why she wants to be part of a smokefree generation. She said:

“I know how dangerous it is because my Nannie died from lung cancer from smoking, and it was painful and scary for her. I remember being in the hospice on the day she died.

“It wasn’t her fault and she wanted to stop lots of times and struggled. If people never start smoking, then it won’t be so difficult to stop.

“I don’t want to get sick from smoking and I don’t want anyone else to either – smokefree generation is a really good idea”.

Supporting people to stop smoking is a key priority in the Humber and North Yorkshire region, which has areas with some of the highest levels of smoking in the country.

Dr Stuart Griffiths, Director of Research at Yorkshire Cancer Research said:

With 90 people in Yorkshire diagnosed with a cancer caused by smoking and 60 people in the region losing their lives every week, we must not lose our focus on helping people quit for good. It’s never too late to stop smoking, and quitting remains the best thing a person can do for their future health.”

For free support to stop smoking, visit Quit smoking – Better Health – NHS (