SEVEN out of 10 smokers in the North-East say their family worries about them dying at an earlier age, according to figures released ahead of a TV campaign.

As Fresh Smoke Free North-East re-launches its ‘Don’t be the 1’ advertising campaign - urging smokers in the region to quit - the new survey lays bare the worry of children and partners losing someone special to the addiction.

Half of smokers die early from a smoking related illness, some in their forties, and latest figures show that 5,600 North-East smokers aged over-35 die every year from a smoking-related disease – 15 deaths a day.

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When the TV campaign first launched in February, nearly 14,000 people responded with 63 per cent of smokers saying they were more concerned after seeing it.

The survey, carried out by Fresh following the campaign, found that: 68 per cent of smokers say their family worry about them smoking and would like them to stop; 85 per cent of smokers wish they’d never started; 75 per cent of smokers were concerned about the health risks and 72 per cent of smokers are concerned about not being around for their loved ones in the future as a result of smoking.

Having watched his dad, Derrick’s, health deteriorate because of smoking-related Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Jason Gaskell, 45, from Darlington, quit his 20-a-day cigarette habit to be around longer for his loved ones, including grandson Morgan.

Mr Gaskell, who worries that his daughters smoke, said: “I didn’t want to put my family through all of the pain of having a disease like COPD. I’m a granddad myself now – so I was determined to stop once and for all to be around for the Morgan growing-up."

“When I quit it was life changing. I had never previously thought about running, but took it up to occupy my time and to prevent me from putting on any weight.”

Despite one in two long term smokers dying early, nine out of 10 smokers seriously underestimate the risks.

Ahead of the TV advert screened from Wednesday August 21, Fresh is urging the North East's 460,000 smokers to quit and be around longer for their loved-ones.

Anyone who would like to quit smoking can find details about local stop smoking service support and links to free online quitting tools at dontbethe1.tv