BIG TEST FOR THE QUITTERS; But your public pledge will help.
MILLIONS of smokers today began the task of living up to their New Year's resolution to give up smoking.
Across Merseyside thousands will have made the decision to stop for the sake of their health - and their finances.
For some the task will prove too much. But the ECHO is giving people the chance to make public their pledge to stop and make it that bit more difficult to cave in along the way.
If you make a declaration to pack in the cigs through our Stub It Out campaign, we will deliver to you a brochure with details of all the organisations and help lines available to keep you going.
This will include tips on how best to give up.
And we will publish a roll call of all those readers who have made the decision to stop.
If you struggle along the way we will put you in touch with the people who can give you the support to keep going.
Individuals can take the ECHO pledge, but on the other hand couples or families may choose to make a joint declaration.
Or people in the workplace could make a group pledge.
There are serious reasons for giving up smoking.
Liverpool has the highest rate of lung cancer deaths in the UK, and more than 1, 000 residents die from smoking -related illness every year. The true figure for smoking-related deaths, which includes related illnesses such as heart disease, is believed to be almost 5, 000 a year.
Don't forget - the cigarettes you smoke can also damage the health of those around you.
That could include your own children, who will suffer later in life from your smoking habit.
So take the pledge through the ECHO and Stub It Out.
Meanwhile, Merseyside school children have added their voices to the ECHO's campaign.
Youngsters at Mackets primary school in Halewood carried out their own project into the deadly habit after following our coverage.
The year six pupils all designed posters after learning about smoking. Their message was clear - stub it out.
Year six teacher Caron McDonald said the 10 and 11-year-old pupils were becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of smoking.
She said: ``They'll be going to senior school next year and the temptation will be there for them to experiment, so it's vital we get the information through.
``All the posters they designed were completely anti-smoking, so it was a really positive experience.
``They're now taking the message home as well, because a lot of their parents smoke. ''
MESSAGE: Cheryl Gibb and Rhea McDonough, front, Jade Flynn and Rebekah Agar and other pupils with teacher Caron McDonald Picture: ANDREW TEEBAY