Since then they have both, along with their daughter, given up smoking. Now they are telling their story to motivate others to stop smoking too and join the thousands of people who quit in Greater Manchester last year.
The most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of smokers in Greater Manchester fell by more than 27,000 in 2018.
Henry, aged 66, said: “Smoking has devastated our family, that’s why we all stopped smoking. We want to share our story in the hope that it will help other people stop – like we wish we had done before cancer struck. If you make one New Year’s resolution, make it to quit smoking. It might not be easy, but it’s worth it. We did it, you can too.”
The family have shared their story as part of the Greater Manchester exsmoker campaign, which is drawing on the real-life experiences of former smokers to show that you can stop.
Henry said: “I started smoking when I was 12, then one day I was having trouble eating because there was something on my tongue. I just thought it was a mouth ulcer. Of all the places to find cancer, they found it on my tongue.
“Most people say this won’t happen to me. I said that but look at me. I’m proof of what can happen.
“I went in for the operation in 2016. I had a roll-up just before, threw it in the bin and thought, ‘well, that’s that’ and I’ve never smoked since.”
Tina, 57, found it harder to quit but after being diagnosed with lung cancer in 2012 and, after several attempts, has beaten the habit.
Tina said: “I didn’t stop smoking like Henry, it took me loads of goes. I had the patches, the drops, the chewing gum. I’d give anything not to have started.”
Tina’s love for her family meant she knew she had to leave the cigarettes behind: “I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving my children and my husband. I mean, we’ve been together for 40 years.”
Henry and Tina have five children and 12 grandchildren (and one more on the way). After seeing first-hand the damage smoking caused, their children followed their lead and also stopped smoking.
Talking about Henry and Tina’s ordeal, their daughter Vikki, 35, said:
My parents’ cancer the biggest wake-up call anyone could need. It genuinely has made me quit smoking.
“I’m the mother of two children aged 14 and 11. I don’t want them to go through what I’ve been through with mum and dad.”
Henry, Tina and Vikki are featured in TV and radio adverts that have been created for the exsmoker campaign.
The campaign also features other local exsmokers, including Salford-based couple and Hollyoaks stars Luke Jerdy and Daisy Wood-Davis.
Daisy Wood-Davis, 29, said: “We stopped smoking for each other. I was tempted to have a cigarette a while ago and Luke said he’d be devastated if I got a smoking-related illness. That was enough to make me never reach for a cigarette again.”
Luke Jerdy, 29, said: “Anything people can do to stop smoking is a great achievement. You might not succeed first time but you will quit eventually. We want others to feel better for kicking the habit, just as we have. I’m running the London Marathon next year. I could never have done that if I was still smoking.”
The campaign has been created by the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership as part of its Making Smoking History programme whose ambition is to reduce smoking rates in the city region by a third by the end of 2021.
Since the programme began there are 46,500 fewer smokers in Greater Manchester and four in ten smokers have made a serious quit attempt in the last year.
Smoking prevalence is falling in the city region at twice the rate of England and there are more people making serious attempts to quit in Greater Manchester than at any time since the smoking ban was introduced in 2007.
The campaign will feature advertising on ITV Granada, Sky Adsmart and video on demand services; commercial local radio; social media; online; in local news media; and on outdoor display locations across Greater Manchester.
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said:
“While national attention is elsewhere, we continue to drive forward on what matters to people living in Greater Manchester. Supporting people to stop smoking is an important part of both our ambition to make smoking history, and our broader vision for transforming the health, wealth and wellbeing of everyone who lives here.”
Kate Garcez, Clinical Oncologist at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust and Henry’s consultant, said
“I hope Henry sharing his story inspires others to take a step to becoming an exsmoker. I see too many people’s lives being drastically affected and cut short through smoking, so would urge all smokers to make quitting their number one priority for 2020.”
For more information, visit YouCanGM.org or call the GM Stop Smoking Helpline, on 0300 123 1044. Advice and support is also available from:
- Local pharmacies
- GP advice and prescription
- Local stop smoking services