Money spent on helping people quit is an investment

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No-one can plead ignorance when it comes to explaining away their decision to smoke.

In the past, the health warnings were not so prevalent and the risks perhaps not so well-known.

But so much work has gone into educating people about the damage cigarettes do to your health that smokers can’t claim to be unaware of the dangers any more.

And yet around 30 per cent of Portsmouth’s population still admit to being smokers – that’s a higher than national figure that should alarm us all.

Of course, the addictive pull of nicotine is well-documented. It’s very easy to get hooked but that’s not something those who were never foolish enough to try it in the first place always understand.

While some do manage to quit through willpower alone, others need more help and support.

A staggering £85m was spent by the NHS last year on schemes providing support to smokers who wanted to give up.

Although that might seem like a lot, we believe it’s money well spent when you consider the overall cost of treating smoking-related health problems.

In the past, smokers had to shoulder the cost of quitting aids themselves and the perceived expense probably put a lot of people off.

Now PompeyQuit gives people the chance to get 12-weeks’ worth of nicotine replacement therapy for the cost of just one prescription charge.

Carolina Roberts is one of the people who benefited from that investment locally and today she speaks openly about her decision to quit.

But her experience raises another vital point that the NHS might have to be prepared to tackle in the future.

The 56-year-old was told she couldn’t have an operation until she had quit. In her case, that was because the risk of her developing a blood clot was too great.

Perhaps surgeons should be able to refuse more non life-threatening operations if the patient in question smokes, giving those who have quit – or have never smoked – priority.