SMOKERS often use the new year as a good opportunity to try toditch the wicked weed - but there is no need to go through it alone, thanks to North Devon s NHS stop smoking service. Free confidential one-to-one clinics run by specialist stop smoking advi

SMOKERS often use the new year as a good opportunity to try toditch the "wicked weed" - but there is no need to go through it alone, thanks to North Devon's NHS stop smoking service.Free confidential one-to-one clinics run by specialist stop smoking advisors are available at different venues in the Barnstaple, Bideford and Ilfracombe areas and open to all.The clinics are organised by Devon Primary Care Trust and are arranged to suit individual needs. Simple tests such as carbon monoxide levels and blood pressures are taken to demonstrate the effects of smoking and plenty of information is provided.Nicotine patches or gum can be organised on prescription and continual support is provided, even by telephone or text message if need be!"It's important that when people are thinking of quitting smoking, they are treated as an individual," explained Ben Boswell, a health trainer for the PCT."Everyone is different, with various reasons for giving up and they will respond differently to treatments."Hanna Coates, from Bideford, is aged 22, but began smoking when she was 14. She has been attending the stop smoking sessions for less than two weeks, but has already found them very helpful."The service is very good and they have kept in regular contact with me, too. The sessions showed me why I shouldn't smoke, but also gave me plenty of encouragement," she said.Hanna had various reasons for wanting to give up smoking - she has been accepted into the police force and did not want to take the habit with her. "I am also quite conscious of body and health," she added"Before giving up I was checked over by a paramedic and the carbon monoxide measure went straight to red. Not very high, but it was still worrying for me."It's not easy giving up, but it has become easier and I am surprised how I am not craving a cigarette any more."But people can't just go into it thinking they will give up - you still have to have the willpower. I enjoyed cigarettes for years, until the final few months when I began to dislike them."TrainersDevon PCT also has a health trainer service for anyone who wants to make lifestyle changes, by getting fitter, eating more healthily, cutting back on alcohol consumption or managing their weight."Our team of health trainers can help if you are 16 years or over and are looking to become fitter, stronger, more mobile, more active and want a healthier diet," said Ben Boswell."We help people make small changes to their everyday lifestyle, with the aim of improving their health."To find out about the local stop smoking service, call 0845 111 1142 or email stopsmoking.devonpct@nhs.net.For more on health trainer clinics in North Devon, telephone (01769) 575 181, or email ben.boswell@nhs.net.