Support is available for people who are finding it hard to stick to their New Year’s resolution to stop smoking, says the Public Health Agency (PHA).
As we progress through January, many people who quit smoking at the start of the month may be finding it tough to stay off tobacco, but help is available to make quit attempts a success.
Gerry Bleakney Head of Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement, PHA, explained: “Quitting smoking can be very difficult, but help is at hand. There are over 600 free stop smoking services across Northern Ireland in pharmacies, GP surgeries, hospitals, communities and workplaces. Using stop smoking support can greatly improve your chances of becoming a non-smoker, as can Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT).”
Recent studies show that a smoker using NRT has up to a 70% improved chance of successfully stopping smoking. NRT aims to reduce withdrawal symptoms associated with stopping smoking by replacing the nicotine from cigarettes. NRT is available as skin patches that deliver nicotine slowly, and chewing gum, nasal and mouth sprays, inhalers, and lozenges.
Gerry Bleakney continued: “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.
“Research shows us that 20 minutes after quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure decreases, after 12 hours the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal, and by five years the risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, and bladder are cut in half. Cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker after five years, while the risk of a stroke risk can drop to that of a non-smoker after two to five years, and after 10 years the risk of lung cancer reduces to half that of a smoker.
“Stopping smoking also has huge financial benefits, and with the cost of tobacco products continuing to rise there really isn’t a better time to quit. Smoking 20 cigarettes a day costs on average £2,730 a year which could be used to pay off bills, or for treats to reward you and your family.
“However, we know that it isn’t always easy. 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.
“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 over 39,204 people decided to stop with the help of our Stop Smoking Services, and many others quit on their own. ‘Be prepared’ is the motto for success.”
Contact the PHA Communications office on 028 9055 3663
Notes to the editor
a) NRT research : Stead LF, Perera R, Bullen C, Mant D and Lancaster T (2008) ‘Nicotine replacement therapy for smoking cessation.’ Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2008(1)
NRT is available across the counter or may be offered free to smokers who receive stop smoking support from pharmacists trained as stop smoking specialists. Your local GP may also offer specialist stop smoking support and can, when appropriate, offer stop smoking tablets on prescription.
b) For more information on the health benefits over time, see the American Cancer Society’s website: http://www.cancer.org/Healthy/StayAwayfromTobacco/GuidetoQuittingSmoking/guide-to-quitting-smoking-benefits, which details the following papers:
i) Effect of smoking on arterial stiffness and pulse pressure amplification, Mahmud A, Feely J. Hypertension. 2003:41:183
ii) US Surgeon General’s Report, 1988, p. 202
iii) A Report of the Surgeon General: How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease – The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease Fact Sheet, 2010; and Tobacco Control: Reversal of Risk After Quitting Smoking. IARC Handbooks of Cancer Prevention, Vol. 11. 2007, p 341
iv) A Report of the Surgeon General: How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease – The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease Fact Sheet, 2010; and US Surgeon General’s Report, 1990, pp. vi, 155, 165