With the holiday season in full-swing, minds are turning to New Year’s resolutions, and once again quitting smoking will be at the top of many people’s ‘to do’ list when the clock strikes midnight on 31 December.
With this in mind, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is encouraging smokers to make a plan, think about what steps they are going to take to stay off tobacco for good, and to seek practical support and advice from a stop smoking service.
There is a range of free services available which can provide solid personal advice that will increase your chances of stopping for good.
Gerry Bleakney, Head of Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement, PHA, said: “In Northern Ireland around 340,000 people aged 16 and over smoke, and sadly one in every two smokers die early because of their smoking habit.
“New Year is a time when many people decide to quit smoking, and while some might be able to do it with very little support, others find that planning ahead and making use of the support services that are available can really help them make the decision permanent.
“It is not easy to stop smoking, and different approaches will work for different people. However, I would encourage everyone thinking about stopping smoking to log onto our Want 2 Stop website at www.want2stop.info and order a free ‘Quit Kit’.
“You can also ring the Smokers’ Helpline free on 0808 812 8008 for help on planning to stop smoking or to find out where your nearest Stop Smoking Service is.”
Health Minister Edwin Poots said: “Smoking is the principal cause of preventable illness and death in Northern Ireland. Despite the widespread understanding of the damage to health from smoking, almost one in four adults here currently smokes.
“Reducing the prevalence of smoking therefore remains a key priority for my Department. Helping smokers to quit is one of the most effective ways to reduce prevalence and the delivery of smoking cessation services will continue to be supported under the new Tobacco Control Strategy, which will be published in the New Year.”
“Investment in local smoking cessation services here in recent years has paid off, with record numbers of people setting a quit date through these services in 2010/11. While I am aware that many smokers successfully quit each year without any support, for others this help will be invaluable and I would like to join with the PHA in encouraging smokers to take that first step towards quitting by contacting the smokers’ helpline or a local healthcare professional for advice on how to stop.”
Stop smoking services are available through local GPs, pharmacies and some community and voluntary organizations. For more information on your nearest stop smoking service visit the Want 2 Stop website at www.want2stop.info or call the Smokers’ Helpline free on 0808 812 8008.
Contact the Public Health Agency on 028 9031 1611
Notes to the editor
1. For further information on stop smoking services available in localities across Northern Ireland, contact the Smokers’ Helpline on 0808 812 8008 or go to www.want2stop.info
2. The ‘Quit Kit’ is available from the website www.want2stop.info