SMOKERS are being encouraged to protect others by taking their habit outdoors.

It is hoped the Oxfordshire Smoking Advice Service campaign will encourage people to turn their homes and cars into smoke-free zones.

A free community breakfast at Rose Hill and Littlemore Children’s Centre in Ashhurst Way, Oxford, launches the campaign tomorrow between 9am and noon.

Sue Bolton, smoking cessation and young people’s specialist at the Oxfordshire Smoking Advice Service, based in Blackbird Leys, Oxford, said: “By taking your smoking outside you can improve the health of your family and friends – even your pets. We encourage people to sign up to the pledge and make their homes and cars smoke-free.”

Karyn Buck gave up smoking after 35 years as part of the Stoptober campaign, and is still smoke-free.

Mrs Buck, 46, from Watlington, said: “If you don’t smoke anywhere indoors, it is an effort to go outside. If it is cold or raining, you don’t go.

“If people do it, they will cut down enormously and that is a good start.”

Amie Coles, of Chalgrove, also quit in October, but is back to smoking about 20 cigarettes a day.

The 24-year-old said: “I don’t drive but I think it would be a good idea not to smoke in a car because you can get distracted. I am going to try to give up again.

“When I gave up I felt so much healthier and saved a lot of money.”

Those who sign up to the new campaign will receive pledge packs containing facts, tools and tips to help smokers take their first steps to quitting, as well as follow-up phone calls to provide support.

A fire engine will be at the launch tomorrow, with Oxfordshire Fire Service staff offering free home safety checks to those who sign up, as well as safety advice.

According to NHS Oxfordshire, life expectancy in Oxford is 80.3 years, but those from the most affluent areas can expect to live six years longer than those in the most deprived.

Life expectancy in the Rose Hill and Iffley ward is rated as significantly low by the Oxfordshire primary care trust.

Leaflets will be distributed in GPs’ surgeries, children’s centres and other areas in Oxford and Banbury.

Oxford City Council and Cherwell District Council are funding the initiative.

The campaign will be launched in Banbury on Friday at the East Street Children’s Centre, from 10am to 1pm.

There will be advice on stopping smoking and support available, but the team won’t be giving out free nicotine patches. Ms Bolton said: “The focus is not on stopping smoking – it is on smoking outside.

“It is for those people who are not ready to give up smoking – people who are not quite ready, but they can still make a difference to their family’s health by smoking outside.”

She said Rose Hill Children’s Centre was chosen as the venue for the campaign launch because of the service’s links with the centre, rather than for any other reason. Ms Bolton added that all children’s centres in the city are supporting the campaign.

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