THOUSANDS of smokers across North Yorkshire who underestimate the dangers of how much their lives can be cut short are being targeted in a hard-hitting campaign.

Public health leaders say smoking is still the biggest preventable cause of ill-health and early death in North Yorkshire, killing about 1,000 people in the county every year.

A new campaign called “Don’t Be The 1”supported by North Yorkshire County Council highlights how one in two long term smokers will die from a smoking related disease. It calls on smokers to quit once and for all for the sake of their loved ones.

Katie Needham, consultant in public health for North Yorkshire, said: "Evidence shows one in two smokers will die from a smoking-related disease, some in their 40s and 50s. These odds are infinitely greater than the reported risks of being hit by a bus, about two in a million, or becoming a millionaire on the National Lottery, one in ten million..

"Worryingly, surveys show nine out of ten smokers underestimate the risk, with about half believing it's one in ten or less. Smoking tobacco is much more harmful than most people think."

County Councillor Caroline Dickinson, executive member for public health said: “The ‘Don’t Be The 1’ campaign starts the run-up to Stoptober, the mass stop smoking attempt , and there are more ways to quit than ever before. We are urging people to give it a go.

"Getting the right support gives you a much better chance, whether that is nicotine replacement therapy, medication, visiting your local stop smoking service or switching to an electronic cigarette which is significantly less harmful.

"It doesn’t matter how many times you have tried before. Quitting lowers your risk of dying early at any age, but the sooner you stop the better."

Go to DontBeThe1 website at for tips on quitting. In North Yorkshire there’s additional support from Smokefreelife North Yorkshire. They council says support to quit makes people four times more likely to be successful than going it alone. Public Health England advises smokers who have failed through other methods to try e-cigarettes and anyone both vaping and smoking should make the switch and stop completely.