Plymouth man who had 60 a day habit urges everyone to quit
A MAN who suffers from breathing problems has urged others to give up smoking in support of a new campaign.
Grandfather Robert Harrison, from Widewell, spoke out to raise awareness of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – a range of lung problems mainly caused by smoking.
Mr Harrison, who used to have 60 cigarettes a day, said he had a persistent cough and was left breathless if he played with his grandchildren.
He said: "I cough because I've got COPD, I've got stuff in my lungs that I'll never ever be able to get rid of and I put it all there just by breathing it in.
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"And although it's just smoke, it's in there and you don't realise that it builds up over the years."
The new campaign backed by the NHS in Plymouth, Devon and Torbay is called Take a Breath. COPD conditions such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema account for more deaths in the UK than breast, prostate or bowel cancer respectively.
The disease is the second most common reason for emergency admissions to hospitals in the country. It is thought more than 20,000 people have COPD but almost 8,000 of them are unaware.
Mr Harrison, speaking of when he was diagnosed 18 months ago, said: "One morning, like every day, I had made my usual cup of tea and a cigarette outside.
"I remember coughing and had this horrendous pain in my chest and when it suddenly dawned on me that I'm going to die if I continued to do this. It was that moment I had to decide this was it.
"Once you stop, your general health, your body, everything about you, your skin changes, you feel better. People tell you that you look better. And that is all because you stopped smoking."
"I had two mild heart attacks, I've got three lovely grandchildren and a beautiful wife and four children, two step children and two of my own right and they couldn't stop me smoking.
"They couldn't do it – it's just that moment of clarity you need as a smoker to stop. The help is out there you've just got to get it. It's free!"
Philip Sanders, aged 65, from Tavistock, also spoke about how COPD had affected his life by taking away his father.
Mr Sanders, the leader of West Devon Borough Council, said his father spent the last few years of his life moving from his bed to an armchair with an oxygen cylinder and two tubes sticking out of his nostrils.
He added: "It was really sad to see a man who was so proud and who had been so fit and strong reach the end in that way."
The Take a Breath campaign will feature on both television and radio for six weeks and a website has been set up at www.takeabreathandquit.co.uk.
To quit smoking visit www.smokefreeplymouth.com.