World No Tobacco Day - Free pharmacy services at the heart of stop smoking support

World No Tobacco Day  - Free pharmacy services at the heart of stop smoking support

The Public Health Agency (PHA) is urging smokers to think about making use of the tailored, free, one-to-one support that community pharmacies can offer to help them stop smoking. The call comes on World No Tobacco Day as the agency highlights over 600 PHA-funded stop smoking services that are available free to current smokers across Northern Ireland.

Colette Rogers, Strategic Lead for Tobacco Control with the PHA, said: “Many of us drop into our local pharmacy to collect prescriptions or buy health and beauty essentials, but community pharmacies also offer specialist advice on a range of health topics.

“One of the key roles that pharmacies play is providing personalised support and advice to help smokers quit their habit. Accessing this support is straightforward, and the PHA has developed a new online video showing how it works.

“Stopping smoking is the best change a person can make to improve their overall health. The benefits start almost immediately and continue for the rest of your life.”

Just 20 minutes after you stop smoking your heart rate drops to a healthier rate, and after 24 hours carbon monoxide and nicotine are eliminated from the body. Circulation improves and your lung function increases between 2 and 12 weeks afterwards. Five years later the risk of heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker. After ten years, the risk of lung cancer falls to half that of someone who still smokes.

Colette continued: “Using stop smoking support services and stop smoking medication can greatly improve your chances of becoming a non-smoker.

“If you quit and then relapse, work out why it happened and focus on how you can avoid it in future. It takes several efforts for many people to quit for good but if you are determined you will do it. Have a look at our online video at to see what you can expect when you walk into a pharmacy to ask about joining the Stop Smoking service.  Last year thousands of people decided to stop smoking by using our services and many others did so on their own – make 2018 your year to quit.”

Alongside community pharmacies, services are offered in many GP practices, HSC Trust premises, and community and voluntary organisations.

For more information on the services available from your community pharmacy and useful tips to stop smoking, visit the PHA’s ‘Want 2 Stop’ website at where you can also order a ‘Quit Kit’ free of charge which will help you plan your quit attempt.  Also follow us on Facebook at

Notes to the editor

To view the video see the Public Health Agency facebook page -