STUDENTS in Kendal have been given a shocking insight into how much they could age if they carry on smoking or start lighting up.

They got a glimpse into the future by using a new free application that has been developed by Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

Using your photograph, the app ages your face into what it could look like in 20 years if you smoke or continue to do so.

It shows a grey pallor to the skin, deepened wrinkles and longer jowls.

Aimed at younger people, it brings some of the physical aspects of the dangers of smoking to life.

The Trust said the app had made young smokers at Kendal College think twice about stopping.

Rebecca Robinson, 17, said: "I looked about 60 it was awful! I was really shocked. I am going to put a lot more effort into stopping smoking now.”

Terry Laing, of Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said the free app was a useful tool.

“We all know the dangers of smoking but to get the message through to younger people is difficult, I think the app strikes a chord with this generation because it is their own face they are looking at rather than just words and general pictures with scare tactics.

"I think a lot of youngsters think the consequences of smoking are too far away to worry about now, but this app shows the damage that is being done to the skin and just how quickly it can happen.”

Kendal College principal, Graham Wilkinson, said: “I think what the Trust has developed in this app is really powerful. I hope the experience the students have with it gives them a glimpse into the future and shows them something they don’t want.”

The trust said if you smoke 10 cigarettes per day, the cost is around £1100 per year while 20 cigarettes per day is around £2200.

The trust provides advisors to work with those wanting to stop smoking. If you're busy during the day it offers evening telephone support clinics, rather than going into a doctors surgery.

The first appointment lasts 20-30mins and helps look at the products you have used in the past and the new products on the market.”

Smokers can get free advice by using the Stop Smoking service. Research has shown that people are four times more likely to quite using the service.

You can call 01900 324222 or visit your local pharmacy.

It follows new research released today (Monday) from Cumbria Primary Care Trust which suggests fewer people in Cumbria now smoke than at any other time in the last 15 years.

In 1998, around one in four Cumbrians regularly lit up. Since then, the number of people smoking in the county has dropped to approximately one in five.

Cumbria’s public health experts say the drop is due to much greater awareness about the risks and changes in public attitudes.

It says research shows that every 15 cigarettes a person smokes will cause 'mutations in the body that can lead to cancer'.

Cumbria’s public health experts are encouraging people to set a date to quit before Easter by contacting the county free stop smoking service now on 01900-324222.

They said setting a quit date is an important step towards stopping smoking and this Easter provides a recognisable date which people can focus upon.

Su Sear is Cumbria’s Senior Public Health Improvement Specialist. She said: "The NHS offers totally free and confidential help for anyone wanting to give up, no matter how many times it takes.

“So I'd suggest to any smoker who's considering giving up, to talk to the county’s stop smoking service and set a date to quit before Easter in the knowledge that others will be doing the same.”

For free help and advice to quit smoking contact the Cumbria stop smoking service on 01900 324222.