Still time to quit smoking for good - free support available

January is traditionally a time when people set a new health goal such as quitting smoking.

Recent research shows four in five people (79%) who smoke intend to kick the habit and those, who succeed in quitting for 28 days, are five times more likely to quit for good.

Martina Blake, national lead, HSE Tobacco Free Ireland Programme, said: “Most people who smoke want to quit but, for many, the idea of quitting can seem impossible. We know, however, that smoking isn’t just an unhealthy habit that you need to break. There are the physical cravings for nicotine, the psychological dependence and the emotional dependence, which all need to be worked on when quitting.”

The HSE Quit Service provides the free tools and supports to make it possible. This 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.

The research showed that some people took up smoking again during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms Blake said this is not surprising given that some people use smoking as a way of managing stress or boredom.

“We want to let people know that the Quit service can help you plan for quitting and ways you can cope with difficult periods in your life without smoking. If you have quit before, you know that you can do it again. Getting the right help will make all the difference,” urges Ms Blake.

Online plan

This year has seen an increase in people seeking online support to quit smoking with 51% more people signing up for an online Quit plan.

Dr Paul Kavanagh, public health medicine specialist, HSE said: “Smoking is incredibly harmful. One in two smokers will die from 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.”

Smoking is an addiction and is often associated with and reinforced by routine activities, people and situations – for example at the end of a meal, driving the car, chatting on the phone, socialising with certain friends, drinking tea/coffee/alcohol.

“The good news is that quitting smoking helps build up your natural resistance to all types of infections including COVID-19. When you stop, the natural hairs in your airways (cilia) begin to work again. Within one to two days, the oxygen levels in your body will improve. Your blood pressure and pulse reduces, which in turn decreases the overall stress on your body.

“Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do to look after health. This is the perfect time to make a fresh start and improve your health in 2021.”

Successful quitter Sandra Whelan finally gave up the cigarettes with help from the Quit service:

“I have shocked myself, after 40 years of smoking I have stopped smoking since 2nd November. It is a fabulous support structure and I would advise anyone even contemplating packing in the cigs to give it a chance. Yes, I still miss a smoke but I feel so much better and have a huge sense of achievement to boot.

“I would encourage people who smoke to first make the decision that you want to quit, have that first conversation with the Quit team and they will help you. The support is there and it’s so important but you have to be ready in your head.”

There are many different ways to get help to quit from the Quit Service:

- A free Quit Kit to help you prepare.

- Messages or phone call the Freephone Quitline 1800 201 203.

- Live chat with a Stop Smoking Advisor on Quit.ie

- Weekly phone support for the first six weeks from a Stop Smoking Advisor.

- Advice on Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) and stop smoking medication.

- An online-personalised Quit plan where you can track your progress.

- Daily tips and support from people who have quit and who are trying to quit on the ‘You Can Quit’ Facebook page.

You can quit.

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