Merton Health Experts Warn About Smoking Risks

Nearly 200 local people died of serious lung conditions in two years

More than 2,000 people in Merton living a life blighted by chronic smoking-related lung diseases, according to figures released by local health chiefs.

They say 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.

NHS Merton Clinical Commissioning Group is highlighting the latest GP figures that reveal the number of people diagnosed with COPD in Merton reached 2,325 in 2014-15.

Nationally, more than 1m people are living with the disease, which can be fatal. And 184 COPD deaths were recorded in the borough between 2012 and 2014.

The capital’s hospitals also logged 13,620 routine and emergency admissions in 2013-14.

Dr Simon Gilbert, Merton CCG Clinical Director and local GP, said: "'COPD is a condition that mainly affects long term smokers. It is caused by lung damage due to smoking and can lead to a persistent cough, recurrent chest infections and worsening shortness of breath. If you suffer from these symptoms it is important to contact your GP practice for further assessment.

“Diagnosing COPD early can be the incentive to stop smoking and get further treatment which can dramatically slow down the progression of this common disease.”

Dr Dagmar Zeuner, Director of Public Health, Merton said: “ COPD kills over 30,000 people a year in the UK, only five per cent less than lung cancer, the UK’s largest cancer killer.

“Around 3m people in the UK have COPD but it is estimated that 2m people are undiagnosed. This is why we’ve developed a local Proactive GP programme in partnership with Merton CCG, improving early detection by working with community Health Champions and local GP practices in the East of the borough to identify and screen those at risk of COPD and refer those with high scores to their GP for further investigations.

“Up to 25 per cent of long term smokers will go on to develop CPD. Therefore the single best thing a smoker can do is to reduce their chances of developing this devastating disease is to stop smoking, and there are many services available to support those who want to quit.”

For help to stop smoking call Merton Stop smoking service on 020 8251 0606, text HELP2QUIT to 80800 or visit ( for a range of free tools and support.

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February 11, 2016