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Tributes to TV’s Adrian, an ex-smoker dead

Tributes to TV’s Adrian, an ex-smoker whose death was “so avoidable”

Television adverts featuring an ex-smoker who had his tongue removed due to mouth cancer are to be shown again as a tribute following his death this month.

Since mid-2008 Adrian Pilkington, 53, had fronted a series of television adverts encouraging smokers to quit. Adrian was clear that his warnings to smokers needed to continue after his death.

Adrian, from Auckland, died on the 6th August, less than three years after first discovering a small ulcer in his mouth. After having his entire tongue removed, the former Karate black belt could breathe only through a tracheotomy and get nourishment through a tube.

Paula Snowden, new Chief Executive of The Quit Group, said that Adrian’s courage in doing the adverts despite his worsening condition was a tribute to a man who will be sadly missed by his family, friends and community.

“By doing these adverts, Adrian has no doubt saved lives. Seeing a man in the prime of life unable to speak or eat is shocking, and we know many smokers liked to think that Adrian was an actor, and that the story was fabricated. But Adrian was a real man who became yet another victim of tobacco.

“We’re showing these adverts again, with the blessing of his family, both as a tribute to Adrian and to continue his work in trying to convince smokers that it’s not worth it.”

Adrian started smoking when he was 17, and was on about 20 a day in his 20s, though this had dropped to about six a day in his 40s. In the adverts he talks movingly about how he had known about lung cancer, but not oral cancers.

“My life is full of regret. I should have lived for another 25 or 30 years,” he said. “It’s not a happy thought, being given a death sentence. It’s bad, I just wish I could change it. The sad thing is that it was so avoidable.”

Paula Snowden added: “Giving up smoking through the Quitline, by calling 0800 778 778, is five-times as effective as trying to quit cold turkey. The best way I can think of to honour Adrian would be to quit.

“Phone Quitline today or talk to your doctor, nurse or other health professional about the support that’s available to help you quit.”


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