HSE urges smokers to take back control this January

Almost 1 in 5 people still smoke in Ireland

by Gazette Reporter
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The HSE Quit service has launched a new campaign which shows how people who smoke can start to take back control over their addiction in 28 days with help from the Quit service.

In 2022, almost one in five people in Ireland still smoke* (Healthy Ireland, 2022). The prevalence of smoking in Ireland remains at 18% and has not declined since 2019.   

Dr Paul Kavanagh, HSE Public Health Medicine Lead with the Tobacco Free Ireland Programme, explains: “While we have made good progress in tackling smoking over the last two decades, smoking continues to cause harm on a huge scale in Ireland. Each week, almost 100 people die and 1,000 people are hospitalised because of smoking related disease. This is preventable, and stopping smoking remains the single most important thing you can do for your health.

“I am concerned by recent trends in smoking as reported in the Healthy Ireland Survey which show that reductions in smoking prevalence may have stalled. It’s important we recognise that smoking is an addiction, not a choice.  And like any addiction, it can be very hard to overcome and start to take back control without the right support.

“As we move into a new year, it’s a great opportunity for people who smoke to reach out to HSE QUIT services for support. If someone has been smoking for many years, taking that first step to being smoke-free can feel huge.”

The HSE is urging people who smoke to make 2023 the year that they ‘take back control’ by quitting smoking. Healthy Ireland surveys repeatedly show that people who smoke are interested in quitting. In 2022, one-in-two of those who smoked in the past year have attempted to quit, and three-in-four were successful in quitting smoking.

Martina Blake, National Lead, HSE Tobacco Free Ireland Programme, says: “In developing our new advertising campaign, we listened carefully to people who smoke so we could better understand how we can connect with and support them to quit.  They told us about the control smoking has over them and across many aspects of their lives and how their daily routines and habits are set for them by their smoking. People often leave social situations to go outside to smoke. They told us how the costs, about €100 per week, means smoking also has control over their finances.

“It’s all too easy to see smoking as an individual choice. However, the reality we are calling out in our new advertising campaign is that smoking is highly addictive and takes control of people’s lives. People who smoke told us they want to take back control.

“The HSE Quit services are here to help with support that tackles the addictive nature of smoking. Many people will try to quit cold turkey without any help or support, but nicotine is highly addictive.

“You are 5 times more likely to quit for good if you stop smoking for 28 days. And you further increase your chances of quitting if you get support from the Quit service. Our trained stop smoking advisors can work with you to create a personalised stop smoking plan tailored to fit your lifestyle. They can also advise you on Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT), doubling your chance of quitting by helping address the physical cravings.”

Mathew O’Donoghue from Tipperary who started smoking at 18 speaks about the control smoking had over him: “I tried to stop multiple times before but each time it kind of felt like something was holding me back. When I turned 30 though I decided to take a long look at myself and more importantly what my future looked like. I used to be very athletic and into sports, which has significantly declined recently, I knew cigarettes were to blame.

“I met my QUIT advisor Susan, who was brilliant. Without putting on any pressure I knew that she would call twice a month and that accountability really made me think twice about having a smoke when I had the urge. Susan provided inhalers, which were fantastic, especially on nights out. I even found that once I got past that original first stage, my body started rejecting the replacements and I’m happy to say I’m off all nicotine now.”

Top tips for quitting smoking successfully:

  1. Don’t feel you need to go it alone. HSE QUIT is there for you to help you take this step with simple, practical and effective help, maximising your chance of staying quit for good.
  2. Focus on the goal to stay smoke-free for 28 days. Once people get to that goal, they are up to 5 times more likely to stay quit for good.  
  3. Use stop smoking medicine, like Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT). This is a safe, effective and a clinically sound way of getting through the first 28 days and dealing with cravings. 

Quit supports available:

The HSE Quit service provides personalised evidence-based support to help you quit. You can tailor your own plan using any combination of the support options:

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