SMOKERS in west Cheshire are being urged to quit to reduce the risks of severe symptoms if they get coronavirus.

Cheshire West and Chester Council and its commissioned stop smoking service provider, Brio Leisure are working with local partners to support the Public Health England message to encourage people to give up the habit.

The council is now backing the #QuitforCovid campaign which was developed by a GP and is now being supported by the Smokefree Action Coalition, led by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH).

Winsford Dr Jonathan Griffiths, who organised a stop smoking summit last year, believes most smokers want to quit - but can't.

"Smoking is so effective as an addictive agent it makes you feel good, gives you a bit of a buzz and relaxes you," said Dr Griffiths, a GP at Swanlow Surgery. "Before you know it, you're hooked. If you smoke on a daily basis then you are more than likely addicted. That is what nicotine does."

Smokers will feel better as soon as they quit, he said.

"Once you stop smoking you will notice a change in your pulse within minutes and your breathing will become easier within 72 hours," said Dr Griffiths. "It can make a difference straightaway.

"Giving up smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health."

Tobacco addiction is the biggest cause of preventable death, disability and illness.

Smoking causes 16 different forms of cancer and damages every organ in the body.

Smoking tobacco damages the lungs, weakens the immune system and causes a range of severe respiratory problems. Evidence so far suggests people who smoke may be at increased risk of severe disease if they get Covid-19.

Cllr Val Armstrong, CWAC cabinet member for adult social care and public health, said: “This is a worrying time for all of us and we are all conscious of the need to protect ourselves, to protect others. Quitting smoking is a very good way to help reduce your chances of hospital admission, if you contract coronavirus.

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“We are supporting the #QuitforCovid campaign as there has never been a more important time to quit smoking than right now. It is never too late to see health benefits of quitting smoking and you're never too old to quit.

Elly McFahn, from Brio Leisure, said “We are still operating a local stop smoking service for our eligible population groups, offering telephone support and posting out nicotine replacement therapy to our clients. The service is working well and lots of residents are keen to quit now more than ever.

“Even if you've tried to give up smoking in the past and didn't manage it, don't give up on quitting because you can do it. Many smokers try several times before they succeed. By getting the right support and using stop smoking aids to help ease the cravings, can give you a much better chance of success.”

As well as reducing the risks from complications from coronavirus, quitting smoking quickly improves your circulation and your breathing. It also reduces the risks of other health problems such as heart attacks and strokes.

Quitting is also linked to reduced depression, anxiety, and stress and improved positive mood and quality of life.

Anyone can access advice and free tools to quit smoking by visiting or

The Brio Leisure service is free to pregnant women, anyone with a mental health condition, children and young adults aged 13-18, residents with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and residents registered with GP practices in Winsford.