AFTER smoking for more than 30 years, a Chadderton couple made the life changing decision to give up the cigs to improve their health.

Roy and Jackie Knight switched cigarettes for e-cigarettes as part of their quit attempt and haven't looked back since.

The couple are now encouraging others to do the same as they support a Cancer Research UK campaign to raise awareness among smokers of the relative safety of e-cigarettes compared to smoking.

The campaign, which is running in Greater Manchester, will feature adverts on billboards, bus-stops, phone kiosks, in washrooms and on social media. The message of the campaign is based on research so far showing that vaping is far less harmful than smoking.

E-cigarettes do not contain tobacco which is proven to cause cancer and while they do contain nicotine, which is addictive, nicotine is not responsible for the major health harms from smoking.

Roy and Jackie, both aged 50, started smoking in their teens with friends.

Jackie, who works as an Attendance Officer at North Chadderton School, started smoking with a group of friends aged 13. She considered herself a social smoker and could easily smoke at least 10 cigarettes on a night out.

Roy, who works as a HGV driver, started smoking when he was aged 17 as all his friends smoked at the time. His smoking increased until he was smoking up to 20 cigarettes a day.

Jackie made the decision, quickly followed by Roy two years ago, to stop smoking as she was worried about their health and the amount of money they were spending on cigarettes.

E-cigarettes proved a much cheaper option in the long term and the couple have gradually dropped their nicotine levels to meet their needs, only tending to vape at home in the evenings.

Jackie, who has also lost two stone in weight through sticking to a healthy, balanced diet, said she feels like a different person.

She said: “I wouldn’t dream of touching a fag now. The smell knocks me sick. I feel so much better health-wise. No more chest infections or coughs.”

The couple have a 17-year-old son called Alex. Jackie added: “If Alex started smoking I would be absolutely devastated. Even if I see someone light up a cigarette at a bus stop now it makes me feel bad.”

Roy said: “I found it hard not being able to smoke while I was driving so I was chain smoking when I stopped.

“I feel a lot better without smoking cigarettes and I’m grateful to Jackie for suggesting that we both try e-cigs in the first place."

Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK prevention champion and academic researcher said: "Tobacco is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer, so the more we can do to reduce the number of people who smoke tobacco-containing cigarettes, the more cancers we can prevent. Evidence so far shows e-cigarettes are far less harmful than smoking, so they are a worthwhile option for smokers struggling to quit."

The campaign is also being supported by Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership

Sarah Price, Director of Population Health at the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “It’s great to see Cancer Research UK highlight that research shows vaping is far less harmful than smoking.

"Greater Manchester has higher smoking rates than most other areas of the UK, so we’re keen to help smokers understand their options.

"Swapping to an e-cigarette almost certainly offers smokers a far less harmful alternative to smoking tobacco.