The HSE recently launched the latest QUIT Smoking campaign, which encourages people who smoke to #QuitandWin – quit smoking for 28 days as this will increase their chances of quitting for good by 5 times. The campaign features people who smoke, and smokers were also consulted and involved in its development. In the ad, excuses to continue to smoke are contrasted with the harm caused by smoking – the harm to those who smoke themselves, to their families and to their loved ones. The campaign also highlights people’s many motivations to quit and shows the best steps a smoker and their community can take to support them to make a successful quit attempt in 2020.
Martina Blake, National Lead, HSE Tobacco Free Ireland Programme, said, “Smoking is an addiction and quitting can be hard. Most people who smoke want to quit but for many the idea of quitting can seem overwhelming. A key development in this campaign is that we breakdown quitting and present an achievable and powerful first step. If you can quit for 28 days you are 5 times more likely to quit for good. Practical support and resources give the best chance of making it to Day 28, and once you reach that you are well on the way to long term success and the benefits of a smoke-free life. Our HSE’s QUIT Team provides free, non-judgemental practical help, designed to fit each smoker’s lifestyle. Our Stop Smoking Advisors are ready to coach anyone who wants to quit.”
Prevalence of daily smoking in Ireland has dropped from 19% in 2015 to 14% in 2019 which means there are now an estimated 165,000 fewer smokers than there were five years ago. Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, said, “We have made good progress in reducing the numbers of people who smoke and there is a lot to be positive about but we must not become complacent. Our Tobacco policy, Tobacco Free Ireland, sets a target for Ireland to be tobacco free by 2025. In practice, this means a smoking prevalence rate of less than 5% which is an ambitious target. But Ireland’s ambition has made us international leaders in this policy area and, with 6,000 lives at stake each year, ambition is the only option. “We must also make sure that we do not leave any smokers behind. Smoking rates are highest in our young adults aged 25-34 and are also much higher in people who are unemployed or living in more deprived areas. I want to encourage anyone who smokes to try to quit for 28 days with the help available from the HSE QUIT Team”.
Dr Paul Kavanagh, Public Health Medicine Specialist, HSE said, “Our new TV ad features views and comments used to sustain the behaviour, but nothing shields people from the devastating impact of smoking. Smoking is incredibly harmful. One in two smokers will die from a tobacco related disease and a smoker can expect to lose on average about 10 years of life due to smoking. Stopping smoking is the single most important thing you can do for your health, for your future and for your loved ones. “We consulted people who smoke, and they told us that behind the excuses they use to protect themselves from the damage their smoking is causing, they want to quit and are looking for hope. HSE QUIT can offer hope as we work individually with people to offer the best chances of living a smoke-free life. “With this campaign, we also start a conversation about the harms of social smoking. People who consider themselves social smokers may not be aware their health is at risk. Even occasional smokers can carry nearly the same risk for cardiovascular disease as daily smokers. Listening to people who smoke highlighted that understanding amongst people who see themselves as social smokers really needs to be challenged.”
This new QUIT Smoking campaign encourages smokers to make a quit attempt with the right help. There are supports available free of charge from the HSE that will double the chance of success. It also calls on all of us to support the people who smoke in our lives to quit. Quitter Alan Lowney, from Clonakilty, found the expert telephone support very helpful. “Having calls from the QUIT Team during my first few weeks of quitting encouraged me to keep going. I also signed up for an online QUIT Plan where I tracked my progress. I still log on to my QUIT Plan every now again to see how long I have been off cigarettes and how much money I have saved by not smoking. However, the longer I have been quit, the less I log on but when I checked recently, I realised that I would be running my first half-marathon in Amsterdam on my 1,000th day as a non-smoker. I had always had a goal of doing something like a half-marathon and not smoking anymore has helped me reach my goal.” Alan’s advice to anyone who is thinking about quitting is to plan for it and to get help from the QUIT Team. “Making a plan gives you the best chance of succeeding and getting practical help to quit makes all the difference.”
The HSE QUIT service provides personalised, free support by phone, email, SMS and live chat. Smokers can free call 1800 201 203 or visit www.QUIT.ie for stop smoking tips and resources, a free QUIT Kit, and to create a QUIT Plan or read other people’s stories. Peer-to-peer support is available on the QUIT Facebook Page www.facebook.com/HSEQUIT or on Twitter at HSE QUIT @HSEQuitTeam #QuitandWin #TheLastStop
Pictured are 2019 Clondalkin QUIT campaign participants.