SMOKERS in west Wales are now choosing between smoking, heating or eating says charity ASH Wales.

The charity, along with local NHS services, raised concerns about smokers, after a rise in smokers seeking support.

ASH found the average packet of cigarettes costs £12, with smokers spending on average £2,451 a year on the habit – described as an addiction by the charity – the same cost of an average energy bill in the UK.

This, alongside the rising cost-of-living, has led to smokers seeking help.

One of those who sought help due to financial issues is Jordan Lee, a 25-year-old housing officer from Carmarthenshire.

Jordan smoked nine cigarettes a day but since joining the Quit, Switch and Save campaign (created by ASH Wales in partnership with local money charities and health boards), has now quit.

Jordan said: “I am by no means penniless or destitute, but like many, I have been hit hard by the rise in bills.

“It actually got to a point where I was rationing my cigarettes over Christmas, to keep my costs down.

“Like any smoker, I found cutting down to be painful and extremely hard. Rather than drawing out the inevitable, I just had enough and decided to quit.

“I got hold of patches through my local pharmacy, and I am now 20 days smoke-free; which I am shocked but happy with.

“A lot of people will think that health is a primary reason for quitting smoking, but for me, paying £11-12 for a packet of cigarettes was an expense I could no longer justify, especially given how expensive everything has become.”

Hywel Dda University Health Board’s stop smoking service said it has seen a rise in those wanting to quit to save on money.

Fiona Edwards, NHS smoking cessation practitioner in Carmarthen, said: “The cost of smoking is substantial, and in recent months we have seen many smokers use our service as they are faced with choosing between smoking, heating or eating.”

Free specialist stop smoking support is available through Hywel Dda, and can be accessed by calling 0300 303 9652.

Alternatively, the national stop smoking service for Wales can accessed via: .