MAGGIE Bratton was diagnosed with mouth cancer at age 45 after smoking countless cigarettes over the years.

She was left with no option but to have surgery to remove the roof of her mouth. She now has to wear a palatal obturator – a plastic prosthetic that enables her to eat and speak.

Ever since her life-changing operation, Ms Bratton has urged smokers to give quitting a go before it is too late.

She said: "My advice is to pack smoking in for the day and take each day as it comes.

"If you make it through the day, go to bed, get up the next day and try again. Sooner or later, you will get it out of your system.

"There’s also plenty of help out there for people thinking about quitting, it’s just about finding what’s right for you.

“I just want to spread the word as far and wide as possible. Don’t end up like me, stop smoking before the dreaded cancer hits.”

Ms Bratton's calls for more smokers in the North-East to consider quitting for good comes as MPs attempt to push forward with bold new measures to achieve a "smokefree generation".

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health hope to bring in a levy on tobacco companies, raising the age of sale of tobacco from 18 to 21, a licensing scheme for premises selling tobacco to tackle underage sales and illicit tobacco, and for more scrutiny of the tobacco industry’s marketing.

Ailsa Rutter OBE, director of Fresh, said: “While it is fantastic that smoking in the North-East has fallen from 29 per cent in 2005 to 16.2 per cent in 2019, we are still seeing too many people like Maggie diagnosed with a smoking-related illness.

“We are fully supporting this package of new measures to make smoking and the diseases that tobacco causes history for the next generation.”

Dr Chris Tasker, Cancer Research UK GP for the Northern Cancer Alliance, said: “One of the best ways to stop smoking is to have help in the form of encouragement and support and nicotine replacement therapy and smoking cessation services.

"Stop smoking medicines can help you manage nicotine withdrawal symptoms and boost chances of quitting. We know that the chances of stopping smoking are highest when you use these two things in combination.

“However, if you don't succeed the first time you attempt to quit, don't give up. Keep trying as no matter how many times you try you still have the same chance of stopping. Research shows that if you try at least once a year you have more chance eventually of stopping smoking.”

For more information on free tools to quit, visit or ask a GP or pharmacist.

Here are 12 helpful tips to help quit smoking:

  1. Willpower is important, but you’re much more likely to succeed if you combine your determination to quit with stop smoking service support and stop smoking aids. 
  2. Even if you’ve struggled to quit before, try to make at least one quit attempt a year until you manage to stop for good, whenever that is. If you try at least once a year, you improve your chances of quitting for good.
  3. Consider using Nicotine Replacement Therapy as a quit aid – there are many different types of this now. The health problems of smoking are caused by other components in tobacco smoke, not by the nicotine.
  4. If you’ve struggled to quit using quitting aids, why not try switching completely to an e-cigarette/ vaping? E-cigs do not contain tobacco and evidence suggests they carry a fraction of the health risks from smoking. Visit a reputable vaping shop (eg one affiliated to the Independent Vape Trade Association) to get advice on the type of product that will help you quit. 
  5. Your chances of quitting are doubled if you use a stop smoking medicine prescribed by a GP, pharmacist or other health professional. Stop smoking medicines can help you manage nicotine withdrawal symptoms and boost your chances of quitting.
  6. Local Stop Smoking Services (where available) provide expert advice, support and encouragement to help you stop smoking for good. Give yourself the best chance of quitting by combining stop smoking service support with quitting aids.
  7. The NHS Smokefree website has lots of free support to help you stop for good. This includes the free online ‘Personal Quit Plan’ to help smokers find the right stop smoking support for them. 
  8. Some people do manage to quit first time – but for many it takes more than one attempt. Don’t get disheartened if you didn’t quit first time, and don’t tell yourself you can’t do it. You can come back better prepared next time.
  9. Think of your health. Chemicals in tobacco smoke enter our blood stream and can then affect the entire body. This is why smoking causes so many diseases, including 16 types of cancer, heart disease and various lung diseases. 
  10. Get support from family and friends – their support can go a long way. If your partner smokes, why not quit together?
  11. Smoking is expensive and you might be surprised at how it all adds up. On average, smokers can expect to save £1,600 - £2,400 a year simply by quitting. 
  12. Research suggests the best chance of success is by stopping abruptly rather than by trying to cut down gradually. Many smokers try to cut down first, but stopping completely creates a clear break.