05:12am Monday 06 July 2020

‘It’s good to talk’ to the Smokers’ helpline

In Northern Ireland smoking is the largest preventable cause of ill health and premature death, contributing not only to lung cancer, heart disease, bronchitis and asthma, but also to many other diseases. It claims between 2,700 and 3,000 deaths per year.

Dr Carolyn Harper, Director of Public Health in Northern Ireland, said: “Our research shows that support and motivation is vital for those who want to stop smoking. We know it’s not easy, so the helpline is there to give help when smokers need it, pointing a caller in the direction of local support in their area, having someone to talk to and giving advice. This is the first positive step smokers can take and the support is there for each caller so they don’t feel they have to do this alone and can quit successfully.”

Dr Harper continued: “The PHA will continue to provide support to help people stop smoking through our want2stop website, packed with information on quitting, and through our Smokers’ helpline. It’s easy to do. Just pick up the phone and call: 0808 812 8008.”

The Smokers’ helpline is there to provide support to a smoker once they decide to stop smoking. It’s free to call from landlines and can be contacted Monday to Friday 1pm to 9pm.

The helpline is manned by trained staff who will talk smokers through the process of giving up smoking. They can also provide a free Quit Kit, general stop smoking advice, and information on where support may be available in their local area from over 600 specialist support services. This may be in a GP practice, pharmacy, hospital or community setting. Every caller is provided with information that is tailored to their individual needs.

Gerry McElwee, Head of Cancer Prevention at Ulster Cancer Foundation (UCF) the charity that operates the Smokers’ helpline, said: “Stopping smoking is the single best thing you can do to improve your health. This is a local helpline run by specially trained staff and it’s an excellent starting point for any quit attempt. The Ulster Cancer Foundation has nearly 40 years experience in helping local people to quit smoking. Our advisers provide support to each caller in an individual, confidential and non-judgmental way. We discuss their smoking history, their motivation for stopping and any previous quit attempts. We provide useful practical tips and help people set a quit date and plan for the days ahead. This empowers smokers to embark on the jouney to a healthier future. We then discuss the wide range of behavioural and pharmacotherapies that are available in their locality and how they can access these. Research shows that when appropriate support is received, a person is four times more likely to quit successfully than someone who stops without support. There’s never been a better time to quit, so call the Smokers’ helpline today.”

Notes to the editor

1. Dr Harper will be available for interview upon request. Contact the PHA Press Office to arrange. Tel: 9031 1611.
2. Gerry McElwee is available for interview. Contact UCF Press Office to arrange. Tel: 9066 3281.
3. The Smokers’ helpline is an important element of the PHA’s ‘Things to do before you die’ stop smoking campaign, launched in January 2011.
4. The PHA will be the lead implementation organisation for the new 10-year Tobacco Control Strategy, which is currently out for consultation. The strategy aims to reduce the numbers of people in Northern Ireland taking up smoking, to encourage more smokers to quit and to afford greater protection for the whole population from tobacco-related harm.
5. Visit www.want2stop.info for information on stopping smoking.

Further information

Photo caption:
Dr Carolyn Harper, Director of Public Health in Northern Ireland and Gerry McElwee, Head of Cancer Prevention at the Ulster Cancer Foundation are encouraging smokers that ‘It’s good to talk’ by phoning the Smokers’ helpline on 0808 812 8008, where advisers at the other end of the phone will offer support and advice to callers who would like to quit smoking.

For further information contact:
PHA Press Office on 9031 1611.

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