‘Smoking almost took my dad’ – Sunderland teenager behind anti-smoking campaign

Elizabeth and Colin Docherty
Elizabeth and Colin Docherty
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A TEENAGER from Sunderland who once feared her smoker dad would never see her pick up her GCSE results has backed an anti-smoking campaign.

Elizabeth Docherty, who is due to pick up her exam results on Thursday, was worried about her dad Colin’s smoking habit when she was younger.

New figures released by anti-smoking campaigners Fresh reveal that 15 over-35s died every day of smoking-related illnesses in the North East last year, with 648 dying in Sunderland.

Tomorrow sees the launch of Fresh’s ‘Don’t be the 1’ campaign which urges smokers to quit.

Colin Docherty had double heart bypass surgery 10 years ago when Elizabeth was six.

Now 16, she said: “It was a really traumatic experience seeing my dad looking so ill – and all because of smoking. After learning about how bad smoking was for your health, I became really scared about what might happen to him if he kept on smoking.

“My grandad had died not long before and he was also a smoker. I was terrified for my dad’s health as I knew that I didn’t want to lose him too. I got really upset because I thought that he might die.”

Colin quit smoking in 2005 but now has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, said: “With more than 5,500 people dying every year from a host of smoking-related diseases, there are still too many families, including young children, who are having to come to terms with losing someone they love to an addictive product.”