Yorkshire Cancer Research and West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service Team up to Help Stub out Smoking

25 January 2019

Yorkshire Cancer Research has teamed up with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) to help people across the region quit smoking. 

Firefighters carrying out home visits will receive video training and information leaflets provided by Yorkshire Cancer Research, including guidance on how to advise smokers on using 
e-cigarettes as a tool to quit successfully.

Smoking rates in West Yorkshire are significantly higher than the national average 1, with more than 300,000 smokers living in the region 2

Dropped cigarettes and other smoking materials caused more than half of West Yorkshire’s fatal house fires in the last five years 3. Smoking is also responsible for thousands of cases of cancer, including 7 in 10 lung cancers 4

Leah Holtam, Cancer Insight Manager at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “Smoking can be dangerous in more ways than one. Yorkshire Cancer Research and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service have very different reasons for urging people to quit but, by working together, we can help people significantly improve their health and keep them safe in their homes.”

‘Safe and well’ visits are paid to vulnerable members of the community most at risk of fire. 

As well as helping homeowners identify fire hazards and develop safe bedtime routines and escape plans, firefighters also give basic advice on topics like crime prevention, falls prevention, cold homes, social isolation and giving up smoking. 

WYFRS has worked with a number of local organisations to pull together training and information resources to support this activity.

The training provided by Yorkshire Cancer Research will help firefighters start conversations with smokers about their options for quitting and tell them about their local stop smoking services. The charity’s resources will specifically help firefighters understand the relative safety of vaping when compared to traditional cigarettes, and guide them in spotting any signs of lung cancer. 

Leah said: “Vaping is at least 95% less harmful than smoking. An added benefit is that the risk of fire is much lower as long as people use the correct charger, replace the charger if there are any signs of damage and ensure e-cigarettes are not left unattended when charging. 

“E-cigarettes have become the most popular stop smoking aid. By using them in combination with free advice and support from local stop smoking services, people are four times more likely to stop smoking forever.”

Michelle Rhodes, who works in Fire Prevention for WYFRS, said: “Since April 2017, we have been developing and delivering training for firefighters and prevention staff on falls and mobility, cold homes, smoking cessation, social isolation and crime prevention.

“WYFRS Safer Community Strategy is all about supporting individuals to be safer within their own homes and working with partners to improve our knowledge in a variety of areas to ensure we enhance not just fire safety but also the health and wellbeing of the most vulnerable people within the communities of West Yorkshire.

“We are working with a number of partners across West Yorkshire and beyond in order to ensure we develop training materials that are appropriate to support this agenda and provide our teams with the skills and basic knowledge of the elements to living well. Through this WYFRS will be able to identify ‘at risk’ residents and offer early intervention to help prevent a crisis point further down the line.”

“Working with Yorkshire Cancer Research, WYFRS is able to support the key messages about quitting, healthy lifestyles and self-care to help prevent people going into crisis.”

For more information about Yorkshire Cancer Research’s ‘Vape to Quit’ campaign, please visit www.ycr.org.uk/vapetoquit



  1. Public Health England, Public Health Profiles, Health Profiles, Adults’ health and lifestyle – “Smoking prevalence”, https://fingertips.phe.org.uk/profile/health-profiles
  2. Office for National Statistics, Population Estimates for UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland: Mid-2017, Reference 2 Web Link
  3. Statistic provided by West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service
  4. Brown KF et al. (2018)The fraction of cancer attributable to modifiable risk factors in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the United Kingdom in 2015, British Journal of Cancer 118, 1130-1141, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41416-018-0029-6.pdf


Nikki Brady, Senior PR Officer, Yorkshire Cancer Research. Tel: 01423 877228. Email: nikki@ycr.org.uk

Notes to Editors

  • Harrogate-based Yorkshire Cancer Research was founded in 1925 and is the largest independent regional cancer charity in England (Registered Charity 516898). We are not part of a national charity.
  • We are committed to reducing the devastating impact of cancer on the lives of people living in Yorkshire.
  • Our mission is to work in partnership, fund research and support initiatives that will help people in Yorkshire avoid, survive and cope with cancer.
  • Current statistics show that 583 people are diagnosed with cancer in Yorkshire every week. Incidence and mortality rates are higher than the England average due to social deprivation, post-industrialisation and lifestyle choices but also availability of healthcare services and difficulties accessing early diagnostics, clinical trials and the latest treatments.
  • We aim to:
    • Be the leading authority on cancer in Yorkshire, understanding the problems and priorities in the region and sharing knowledge with partners.
    • Raise awareness of cancer and how to prevent it by working in local communities, schools and colleges, sports clubs and with other health-related organisations.
    • Promote screening programmes and fund research that can improve the diagnosis of cancer so we can detect and treat it at the earliest opportunity.
    • Invest in innovative research projects at every stage of a cancer patient's journey.
  • For further information, please visit www.yorkshirecancerresearch.org.uk or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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