A new study shows smokers are twice as likely to die from a stroke as non-smokers.
In Lancashire the smoking prevalence per 100,000 of the population is 21 per cent.
Public Health England’s Smokefree Health Harms campaign highlights how dangerous chemicals in cigarettes, including arsenic and cyanide, flow through the body, damaging the heart and lungs and cells in the brain.
Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows how the brain is particularly vulnerable to these toxins, leading to a faster decline in functionality and an increased risk of stroke and dementia.
Smoking can also cause the arteries to narrow which, in turn, increases the likelihood of blood clots that can lead to a stroke.
Andrea Crossfield, chief executive of Tobacco Free Futures, a social enterprise responsible for tackling tobacco in the North West, said: “Addiction to tobacco is still Lancashire’s biggest killer, with half of all long term smokers dying in the region from their dependence.
“People still underestimate the serious damage to health caused by smoking with the heart, lungs and brains affected.
“Smokers who stop this January will notice immediate health improvements including a better sense of smell and taste and more energy. Longer term, ex-smokers reduce their risk of stroke, heart disease and lung cancer, as well as protecting others from secondhand smoke. If you have been thinking about quitting now is the time to do it.”
Support, advice and a range of tools are available for anyone looking to stop smoking.
Visit www.nhs.uk/smokefree to receive free support tools and find details of where you can get professional advice through your local NHS stop smoking service.