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​Almost 300 people in Lewisham living a life blighted by chronic smoking-related lung diseases


Residents who smoke are being warned about the risks of developing debilitating lung diseases if they do not kick the habit.


Smoking is the biggest preventable risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the umbrella term for serious lung conditions including chronic bronchitis and emphysema.


COPD can be seriously debilitating, causing breathing difficulties in many cases due to the narrowing of airways and destruction of lung tissue.


NHS Lewisham Clinical Commissioning Group is highlighting the latest GP figures that reveal the number of people diagnosed with COPD in Lewisham reached 286 in 2014-15[1]. Nationally, over one million people are living with the disease, which can be fatal.


Sadly, 396 COPD deaths were recorded in the borough between 2012 and 2014. The capital's hospitals logged 13,620 routine and emergency admissions in 2013-14[2].


Dr Marc Rowland a local GP and Chair of NHS Lewisham CCG, said typical symptoms of COPD include breathlessness when active, a persistent cough and frequent chest infections.


"COPD may not be well known but it can be a serious and severely debilitating disease, dramatically affecting people's lives and leading to years of suffering," he said.


"Smokers can often dismiss the early signs of COPD as a 'smoker's cough', but if they continue smoking and the condition worsens, it can greatly impact on their quality of life.


"Large numbers of people with COPD are unable to participate in everyday activities such as climbing stairs, housework or gardening; with many even unable take a holiday because of their disease".


"The single best thing a smoker can do to reduce their chances of developing this devastating disease is to stop smoking and there are many services available to support people in Lewisham who want to quit."


To highlight the impact of COPD, Public Health England has released a new short film featuring Olympian Iwan Thomas, whose mother has recently been diagnosed with COPD. Together with four smokers, Iwan takes part in an experiment to illustrate the difficulties of living with advanced COPD and urges people to quit this New Year.


The film can be found here.

[1] [1] Figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre:

[2] PHE calculations of routine and emergency admissions for COPD, from Health and Social Care Information Centre,  Hospital Episode Statistics, Admitted Patient Care, England - 2013-14,