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Press releases

Cameron pledges support for sight loss charity on National No Smoking Day

Macular Society

3 min read Partner content

Prime Minister David Cameron has supported a charity campaign to urge people to quit smoking in a bid to help save their sight.

The Macular Society has launched the second wave of its anti-smoking ‘Is It Real?’ campaign, which has gained the support of the Prime Minister who has labelled it an ‘innovative and fresh’ initiative.

The Society’s ‘Is It Real?’ campaign, which was launched for the first time last year, is aimed at 11-14 year-olds and aims to highlight the link between smoking and sight loss.

Prime Minister, David Cameron said in support of the campaign: “We recognise the devastating impact smoking can have on public health, for smokers and their families.

“Children can play a key role in helping to encourage the older smokers in their families and the ‘Is It Real?’ Vivo campaign is looking for young people to do just that.

“This is indeed an innovative and fresh endeavour to help reduce tobacco use and I wish the campaign every success in achieving its goal.”

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) affects the central vision and is the most common cause of sight loss in the UK, with more than a quarter of a million people affected.

Research suggests smokers are up to four times more likely to get macular degeneration compared with non-smokers. Smokers with certain genes may be 20 times more likely to develop the condition. The combination of smoking and genetics may account for as much as a third of all macular degeneration.

As part of the second phase of the ‘Is It Real’ campaign, which has launched on National No Smoking Day, will see a series of hard-hitting videos from children highlighting the risks of sight loss associated with smoking.

The videos will circulate on the Vivo Edge platform, which is available to use in 653 secondary schools across the UK.

Through Vivo Edge, students will be able to view and share these videos. They can also win prizes by engaging in activities and competitions, which explain how smoking can cause age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Cathy Yelf, Chief Executive of the Macular Society, said: “Our mission is to beat the biggest cause of blindness in this country. A vital part of this is education about the risk factors for AMD. Around 200 people a day in the UK start to lose their sight from macular degeneration, many because they smoke.

“Recent research suggests that to young people, the risk of having to live for many years with sight loss can be as much of a deterrent as the risk of a fatal disease.”

At the start of 2015 the Macular Society carried out a survey, through Vivo Edge, that asked more than 2,000 UK school students to pick a New Year's resolution for a family member or friend. The top result was to ask a friend or relative to quit smoking. 

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