The Public Health Agency (PHA) is taking the opportunity to highlight this year’s World No Tobacco Day which takes place on Tuesday 31 May.
In Northern Ireland, around 340,000 people aged 16 and over smoke. Smoking contributes not only to many cancers, heart disease, bronchitis and asthma, but to other illnesses, including stroke. In fact, smoking causes around 2,700 deaths per year here, all of them avoidable.
The PHA is committed to saving lives by reducing the percentage of people who smoke. The PHA:
- works with councils to ensure smoking-related laws are enforced;
- funds a range of support to smokers who want to quit;
- educates young people to not start smoking, through programmes like ‘Teenage Kicks’ and ‘Smokebusters’.
In January this year, the PHA also launched its smoking campaign ‘Things to do before you die’ to encourage smokers, particularly those aged 20–49, to stop smoking.
Health Minister Edwin Poots said:"Smoking is the greatest cause of preventable illness and premature death in Northern Ireland. While good progress has been made in the last number of years to reduce the number of people who smoke, more needs to be done.
"I would appeal to all smokers to use the wide range of support services available to make every effort to stop smoking - it is the single best step you can take to improve your health and quality of life."
Mark Mc Bride, Health Improvement Manager, PHA, said “Smoking is the single greatest preventable cause of death in the world today. Across Northern Ireland there are over 600 support services for people who wish to stop smoking. These are based in GP surgeries, community pharmacies, hospitals, community centres and workplaces.
“From April 2010 to end March 2011 more than 1 in 10 of all adult smokers sought help from the support services and approximately half had quit after four weeks. This is a substantial – roughly 50% increase – on previous years and shows the benefit of the PHA campaigns and the dedication of the many specialists who help smokers quit.
“I would encourage everyone who is either thinking about quitting or ready to log on to our Want 2 Stop website www.want2stop.info or to contacting the Smokers’ Helpline on 0808 812 8008 a Quit Kit free of charge.”
Contact the PHA Press Office on: (028) 9031 1611.
Notes to the editor
1. The World Health Organization promotes World No Tobacco Day on 31 May each year. The World Health Organization (WHO) has selected "The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control” (WHO FCTC) as the theme of this year’s World No Tobacco Day.
2. The campaign which focuses on highlighting the health risks associated with tobacco use and advocating for effective policies to reduce consumption will focus on the following key message – That countries must fully implement the treaty to protect present and future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco smoke.
3. For more information on the effects of Tobacco see www.who.int/tobacco/wntd/2011/background/en/index.html
4. The PHA will be the lead implementation organisation for the new 10 year Tobacco Control Strategy, which is currently out for consultation. The strategy aims to: reduce the number of people in Northern Ireland taking up smoking; encourage more smokers to quit; afford greater protection for the whole population from tobacco-related harm.
5. Smokers can get help and information about ‘stop smoking’ services, GP and pharmacy support, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and the Quit Kit by visiting www.want2stop.info or calling the free Smokers’ Helpline on 0808 812 8008.