Smoking is the single greatest cause of preventable illness, premature death and health inequality throughout Northern Ireland and 2,300 people die prematurely each year from smoking-related illnesses such as coronary heart disease, stroke and many cancers.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has selected ‘Ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship’ as the theme of this year’s World No Tobacco Day.
Gerry Bleakney, Head of Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement, PHA, said: “Reducing smoking prevalence is one of the biggest challenges we face in public health and the PHA is committed to reducing the prevalence of smoking within Northern Ireland and will continue to work hard to meet the main objectives outlined in the ‘Ten Year Tobacco Control Strategy for Northern Ireland’ launched in February 2012.
“We know that legislation is vital to reducing the damaging effects of tobacco. The introduction of the Smoking Order on 30 April 2007, the Age of Sale legislation introduced in September 2008, the ban on the sale of tobacco products from vending machines which came into effect in March 2012, and the removal of tobacco displays in large shops from 31 October 2012, are tobacco control measures introduced to help prevent people from starting to smoke, protect non-smokers and encourage smokers to quit.
“We will continue to work closely with the DHSSPS, HSC Trusts and partner organisations in the voluntary sector to prevent the recruitment of new smokers and reduce smoking prevalence in Northern Ireland.”
Stopping smoking is the single most important thing you can do for your health, however it is not easy and different approaches will work for different people. While some people might be able to do it with very little support, others find that planning ahead and making use of the Stop Smoking Support Services that are available can really help them make the decision permanent.
Gerry added: “We know that motivation and support is vital for every smoker who wants to quit and the PHA will continue to provide help to people trying to stop smoking through our ‘Want 2 Stop’ website, which is packed with information on quitting, and through our Smokers’ Helpline. The free stop smoking Quit Kit is also a great tool to help people who are thinking about stopping plan their quit attempt.
“Alternatively, there are over 600 services across Northern Ireland in pharmacies, GP surgeries, hospitals, communities and workplaces that can help with you with your quit attempt,” Gerry concluded.
For more 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.
Notes to the editor
1. The World Health Organization promotes World No Tobacco Day on 31 May each year. The theme for World No Tobacco Day 2013 is: ban tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship.
2. For more information on World No Tobacco Day on 31 May see www.who.int/campaigns/no-tobacco-day/2013/event/en/index.html
3. The PHA will be the lead implementation organisation for the 10 year Tobacco Control Strategy, which was launched on the 28 February 2012. The strategy aims to reduce the numbers of people in Northern Ireland taking up smoking; to encourage more smokers here to quit; and to afford greater protection for the whole population from tobacco-related harm.
4. The legislation will also apply to small shops, bulk tobacconists and specialist tobacconists from 6 April 2015.