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“I hope that by sharing my experience, I’ve helped protect future generations from the harms of smoking”

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Nikki Brady


Liz Liversedge, 67, visited Parliament on No Smoking Day to share her experience of quitting smoking through the Yorkshire Stop Smoking Study, funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research.

Liz and colleague outside parliament Liz and colleague stood in front of banner reading 8 million lives in the UK lost to smoking since 1971

Liz, from Leeds, was invited to take part in the study after attending an appointment at the Leeds Lung Health Check, which scans people for early signs of lung cancer.

While on the unit, people who smoke are offered the opportunity to speak with a specialist stop smoking advisor. They are then provided with weekly ongoing support, including the option to use nicotine replacement therapies, like patches and gum, or vapes.

Liz’s lung scan came back clear, meaning she didn’t have cancer - but she decided to take up the offer of stop smoking support and has been ‘smoke free’ for six months.

Liz is now passionate about helping young people understand the risks of smoking. She is urging the government to push ahead with its proposed ‘Smokefree Generation’ legislation, which could see the legal age of using tobacco increased by one year every year, so that people born on or after 1 January 2009 will never be able to legally buy tobacco products.

Liz, who started smoking at the age of 15, said: “My mum and dad smoked so I was always around smoking, and I actually hated it when I was young. Then I got to an age where all my friends smoked, and I forced myself to start smoking to fit in, which I regret now.

Back then, everywhere you looked there was advertising for cigarettes. There were no worries about the dangers of it. It was seen as a cool thing to do.”

Liz had wanted to quit smoking for many years, but a previous attempt had proved unsuccessful. Although she was able to go without a cigarette for a few months, she relapsed and returned to smoking 20 cigarettes a day.

It was only with the help and support of a specialist advisor that she was able to quit for good.

“Something just clicked,” Liz explained. “I was in good health, but I knew that if I wanted that to continue I needed to stop smoking. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to do it, but the advisor was so helpful and so calming. The way she explained things made sense to me. It wasn’t easy but it was certainly easier than I thought it would be. I feel so positive about it.”

Liz used nicotine patches to help her quit smoking, but she no longer needs them to manage her cravings. After recently retiring from a career in administration at the University of Leeds, she is now reaping the benefits of being smokefree.

I feel great. My sense of smell and taste has returned. I do a lot of walking since retiring and I’m now able to walk a lot further. I don’t have to sit down as much. So my physical activity has improved. Smoking was also getting far too expensive, so I now have more money to spend on other things.”

Liz was one of a group of people invited to share their experiences in Parliament about the impact of smoking on their lives by Yorkshire Cancer Research and the Humber and North Yorkshire Centre for Excellence in Tobacco Control. She attended alongside her stop smoking advisor Dianne Presha.

Hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health the event included those who have lost relatives to smoking-related illness, people whose health has been affected, health professionals and young people who want to grow up in a smoke free country. It was attended by politicians including the Minister for Public Health, Start for Life and Primary Care, Andrea Leadsom MP.

Liz, who lost her dad to lung cancer when he was 68, said: “It’s really important that we stop youngsters from starting to smoke. These young people are the same age I was when I started, so it’s something I feel very strongly about. I hope that by being there, I’ve helped protect future generations from the harms of smoking.”

The Yorkshire Stop Smoking Study is led by Professor Rachael Murray in the School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham.