With No Smoking Day (NSD) approaching on Wednesday 9 March (Ash Wednesday – the first day of Lent), the Public Health Agency (PHA) says there has never been a better time for smokers to quit.
Smoking is the single greatest cause of preventable illness and premature death in Northern Ireland, and one in every two smokers will die prematurely because of their smoking habit.
In January this year, the PHA launched its smoking campaign ‘Things to do before you die’ to encourage smokers, particularly those aged 20–49, to stop smoking. Since the campaign launch, over 6,500 people have taken up ‘stop smoking’ services and over 3,000 have requested and received the PHA Quit Kit.
Supporting No Smoking Day, Dr Carolyn Harper, Director of Public Health for Northern Ireland, said: “Support and motivation is vital for every smoker who attempts to quit and we will continue to provide this through our ‘stop smoking’ services across Northern Ireland.”
In 2009/10, 23,383 people in Northern Ireland set a quit date to stop smoking with the help of one of over 600 ‘stop smoking’ services, funded by the PHA and provided by community and voluntary groups, statutory services, GPs and local pharmacies.
Dr Harper added: “It’s easy to get started. Just lift the phone and ring the campaign helpline on 0808 812 8008 or go to www.want2stop.info The website is packed with information and advice on stopping smoking. You can order a Quit Kit and talk to a ‘stop smoking’ adviser today or find out where you can receive local ‘stop smoking’ support.
“There are enormous positive health effects with a smoke-free life, not to mention financial benefits. Smokers who smoke 20 cigarettes a day for one year will save over £2,000 every year after they quit, that’s around £200 a month. No Smoking Day is an ideal opportunity to break free from cigarette addiction for good.”
Supporting No Smoking Day, Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said: "We know that most smokers want to quit the habit but it is not always easy without help. Therefore, supporting smokers to quit is a fundamental part of my Department's drive to reduce smoking prevalence in Northern Ireland. The annual campaign has been very effective and I urge smokers to use this year's No Smoking Day to make the decision to quit. The help is readily available and this one step has the potential to do more to improve personal health and life quality than any other single measure.”
PHA Press Office on 028 9031 1611
Notes to the editor
1. The figure of 23,383 quoted in this press release and attached table is from the Public Health Information and Research Branch (PHIRB) ‘Statistics on smoking cessation 2009/10’. The number of people who have requested and received the PHA Quit Kit, and the number of people who have taken up ‘stop smoking’ services, is from the PHA.
2. Dr Carolyn Harper is available for interview upon request. Testimonials are also available from successful ex-smokers. Contact the PHA Press Office on 9031 1611 to arrange.
3. A ‘stop smoking’ service is available to anyone who wants to stop smoking. It is a free service providing support, expert advice and tools including the Quit Kit.
4. The PHA’s ‘Things to do before you die’ campaign aims to motivate smokers to think about quitting and to support smokers once they have made the decision to stop for good. The campaign is composed of two strands, one focuses on why smokers should quit and reinforces the health risks and consequences of smoking. This describes how it feels to experience a smoking-related illness, not just for the smoker – but also the impact on their family.
5. The campaign includes television, radio, online and washroom poster advertising. 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.
6. 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.
7. No Smoking Day is a UK campaign that has been running since 1984. The theme for 2011 is ‘Time to Quit’. Further information about the No Smoking Day campaign is available at www.nosmokingday.org.uk