As the countdown to No Smoking Day 2014 gets underway, thousands of smokers across Northern Ireland were today urged to take their first step to Victory and set March 12 as their quit date.
The Public Health Agency, Cancer Focus Northern Ireland and British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland, who are part of the Northern Ireland No Smoking Day Coordinating Committee, have joined forces to call on local smokers to stop smoking and to avail of the support that is available to help them on their road to Victory.
Jayne Murray, Public Affairs & Communications Manager, BHF Northern Ireland, said: “Just like every other No Smoking Day campaign, this year’s theme is the result of a fully thought out plan based on in-depth research. We question and talk to smokers who want to quit, and once we’ve got the measure of their motivations, we work together to agree on the most relevant, inspiring way forward.
“Many people we spoke to described a love/hate relationship with smoking – it’s a friend but also an enemy. Quitting is seen as hard, often too hard. Yet smokers also said how overwhelmingly happy they feel once they’ve managed to quit for a length of time. The fight is clearly worth the effort, so this year theme is ‘V for Victory’.”
In Northern Ireland around 360,000 people aged 16 and over smoke, and sadly one in every two will die early because of their habit. No Smoking Day provides an excellent focus for local smokers to stop together.
Gerry Bleakney, Strategic Lead for Tobacco Control with the PHA, said: “Everybody has their own personal reason for wanting to give up smoking. Some people give up as part of a larger lifestyle change – to be healthier, to get fit, or to save money. For some, it’s more about how their smoking affects the people around them – their family, friends, and little ones.
“Whatever your reason, thinking carefully about your motivation and keeping a reminder in key places can be really helpful for keeping you going through the tough times.
“There are over 600 free stop smoking services across Northern Ireland in pharmacies, GP surgeries, hospitals, community centres and workplaces that can help your quit attempt. If you quit and then relapse, accept it, 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. Last year thousands of people decided to stop using our ‘Stop Smoking Services’ and many others quit on their own. ‘Be prepared’ is the motto for success.”
Gerry McElwee, Head of Cancer Prevention at Cancer Focus, said: “Research has shown that over two thirds of smokers in Northern Ireland would like to stop. No Smoking Day is one of the best times for smokers to escape their addiction so we are encouraging smokers to think ahead and make Wednesday 12 March 2014 the day that their smoke-free life begins.
“Stopping smoking is the most important thing that you can do to improve your health but it can require commitment and planning. That’s why we at Cancer Focus are working more closely than ever with smokers who want to stop.
“We provide stop smoking support services across Northern Ireland, including the Smokers’ Helpline, which are funded by the PHA and are free and confidential. They are very informal and offer individual and group support. We talk about smoking habits, tips for giving up and how to cope with cravings, and in the last year helped two-thirds of those who used our services to stop smoking within four weeks.”
For information and useful tips to stop smoking, log on to the PHA’s ‘Want 2 Stop’ website www.want2stop.info and order a ‘Quit Kit’ free of charge. Alternatively contact the Smokers’ Helpline on 0808 812 8008.