Cath’s story

Cath Haley is 64 and lives in Sunderland. Until last year Cath smoked 20 cigarettes a day for 50 years but has now decided it is time to quit smoking.

Cath’s life changed after she watched Fresh’s “Smoking Survivors” campaign on TV.

The campaign features Cathy Hunt and Sue Mountain who are two real life “survivors” who were diagnosed with cancer from smoking while still in their 40s.

In their own words and graphic footage, they speak of the shock of diagnosis and the devastating impact on their health, finances and family. Their emotional pleas not only feature on TV adverts but on billboards across the North East.

Cath said: “The reason I decided to quit was that I watched the advert on TV, and it was about a woman around my age with terrible scars because of her smoking, and I thought that could be me in the not-too-distant future.

“It put the fear of God into me. That advert made a difference to me. Both my kids work full time and I would worry there would be no-one to look after me.”

Cath has also received additional support from her local stop smoking service in Sunderland.

“I went on the Gentoo housing website and it asked me if I wanted to quit smoking. I put my details in and they rang me.

Cath explained: I went to see them and got my vape and patches and packed in the next day. Angela from the Sunderland Stop Smoking Service and the team have been amazing. They contacted me and have been with me through my quitting journey.”

Quitting is already making a massive difference to Cath’s health and mental wellbeing.

She said: “I feel 100 times better than what I did when I was smoking, I can breathe better. I live opposite a metro station. I’ve found it difficult getting the train because there is a massive staircase and no lift. The last time I went I couldn’t breathe I thought I was going to have a heart attack. Now I go twice a week.”

Switching to a vape is also saving Cath money. She used to spend £70 a week on cigarettes and by quitting has more money to spend.

“I still have money in my bank the day before I get paid. That has never happened, ever. I’m planning a holiday this year with all of my savings.”

Cath has already received lots of praise from her friends and family, and wants other people who smoke to give it a go.

“I would advise anyone who smokes to quit. If you are struggling, keep trying. You will get there. There is loads of support. If I can do it after 50 years, I’m sure you can.”

The campaign is being run by Fresh as part of a commitment by all 12 local authorities in the region and the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board to reduce smoking – one of the region’s leading causes of health inequalities, the biggest cause of cancer and the single largest cause of preventable deaths.