Make this New Year healthy and smoke free


As we head into the New Year, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is urging people to make a New Year’s resolution to quit smoking and improve their health.

Colette Rogers, Strategic Lead for Tobacco Control with the PHA, said: “During the COVID-19 pandemic, our health is more important than ever. Stopping smoking now will have a positive impact on your health, not only in the long-term, but also sooner in ways you probably hadn’t thought about. For example, if you smoke, your fingers are in contact with your lips, increasing the possibility of transmission of COVID-19 from hand to mouth.

“This has been a difficult year in lots of ways, but you can use the New Year as an opportunity to take a positive step to quit smoking and make use of our free support services to help.

“Due to the present COVID-19 situation we have put plans in place to ensure you can access PHA-funded Stop Smoking Services while still following social distancing guidelines,” said Colette.

“This may include telephone contact or video calls as opposed to face-to-face support. These measures will ensure you can still access Stop Smoking Services in a manner which is safe and convenient for you.”

Studies have shown that you are four times more likely to quit with help. Local Stop Smoking Services, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and support from your family and friends can make all the difference when you are quitting, so make sure you are familiar with all the help available.

“We know quitting smoking isn’t easy and it can take several attempts for many people to quit for good, but if you are determined you can do it,” said Colette.

“There is lots of help available to support you to quit. If you have tried to quit before and relapsed, accept it, work out why it happened, and focus on how you can avoid it happening again. If you found you have relapsed due to the difficulty and stress of the pandemic, remember the positives. You have quit before and you can do it again!

“We would encourage people to take the time to look at our website at  As well as support and advice, you will find real life stories of people in Northern Ireland who have quit successfully. You can get insight from their experience and what has motivated them as you consider your smoke free choices this New Year.”

There is a range of services across Northern Ireland that can help and support people to quit. Experienced stop smoking staff provide a friendly, supportive service in a relaxed environment. They’ll help design a stop smoking plan that will work best for you to make this as easy as possible.

Services are offered through many community pharmacies, GP practices, HSC Trust premises, and community and voluntary organisations.

Top tips for giving up smoking

  • Make a date to give up – and stick to it!
  • Make a plan. Think about what could help you stop smoking, such as using a nicotine-replacement product, and have it ready before the date you plan to stop.
  • Get support from your local Stop Smoking Service. Also, let your family and friends know that you're quitting. Some people find that talking to friends and relatives who have stopped can be helpful.
  • Keep busy to help take your mind off cigarettes. Try to change your routine, and avoid the shop where you normally buy cigarettes.
  • Treat yourself. If you can, use the money you're saving by not smoking to buy yourself something special.

The PHA’s stop smoking website  has been created with the involvement of smokers and ex-smokers to support people in their quit attempt. The site has information on the benefits of quitting, stop smoking aids, and Stop Smoking Services across Northern Ireland, and you can also order your free Quit Kit to help give you the best chance of success in becoming smoke free.