Kick your smoking habit for good with the 28-day no smoking challenge

by Padraig Conlon

This National No Smoking Day (Wednesday, 26 February) the HSE is calling on people who smoke to take on the 28-day #TheLastStop no smoking challenge in March.

Research shows that if you can quit smoking for 28 days, you are five times more likely to quit for good.

Starting from the 2nd of March people who smoke across the country will be taking the 28-day challenge.

Take advantage of the free support available from HSE Quit including a Quit Kit, daily messages or phone calls, an online Quit plan, face to face support from their local Stop Smoking Advisor and daily tips on the You Can Quit Facebook page.

Martina Blake, National Lead, HSE Tobacco Free Ireland Programme, offers this advice:

“We know that 7 out of 10 people who smoke want to quit. However, an important step that people often miss out on is the preparation. Setting a date to quit and equipping yourself with the information, tools and supports you need to quit will make a huge difference.

This March there is plenty of support to help you including a Quit Kit to help you prepare, daily messages or phone calls from the Quitline, an online personalised Quit plan where you can track your progress, face to face support from a Stop Smoking Advisor and daily tips on the You Can Quit Facebook page.

On an average day, the HSE supports 1,500 people to stop smoking.   Get in touch with the Quit Service now and get ready to quit on March 2nd”

Research commissioned by the HSE found over 5 in 10 people were interested in using a Stop Smoking Medicine to help them quit, making these the most popular option. 

However, when it came to making their last quit attempt, 3 in 10 people used no help and 3 in 10 people used e-cigarettes.

Dr Paul Kavanagh, HSE Public Health Medicine Specialist, said:

“It is great that so many people who smoke are interested in quitting and making quit attempts  – around half a million people  tried to quit last year. 

“It is a big step to take, and we want to be sure that people have the information and support they need to maximise their chance of becoming smoke free.

“It was positive for us to hear 1-in-2 people would be interested in using a Stop Smoking Medicine to help them quit.

“But too few people are accessing available support to help them quit successfully. 

“Many people use e-cigarettes when they are quitting smoking.

“E-cigarettes are still fairly new, so we don’t yet know how safe they are and it will take some time for us to fully understand the risks and benefits. 

“There are still questions about whether they work as stop smoking aids.  Because of this, we don’t recommend e-cigarettes to help you quit smoking.

“Our best advice is that using safe and effective stop smoking support increases the chance of success.  A combination of Stop Smoking Medicines and support from HSE QUIT means someone is 2-3 times more likely to stay quit for good.  

“Finding out about Stop Smoking Medicines and the options available to you gives you the best chance of quitting for good this March.”

This March, six Quit Leaders from across the country will be quitting smoking with support from HSE Quit.

You can follow their progress on and find out details of the Quit Roadshow where you can get the information you need to help you quit.

Quit leader, Claudine Woods, explains why she’s taking on the Quit Challenge this March:

“My main reason for quitting apart from myself is my two children.

“I want to be around for them and hopefully grandchildren.

“I am excited about being a Quit Leader because if I can succeed being a quit leader I think I’d be a great role model for anyone else trying to give up, if being a quit leader gets me off the smokes it can get everyone off.”

The HSE QUIT service provides personalised, free support by phone, email, SMS and live chat.  Smokers can free call 1800 201 203 or visit 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 or on Twitter at HSE QUIT @HSEQuitTeam  #TheLastStop #QuitandWin

5 Top Tips to Quit Smoking:

  • Prepare to quit: take a moment to write down your reasons for quitting. Keep them close to hand or even stick them on your fridge as a reminder to stay strong.
  • Change your routine and habits – do you normally have a cigarette with a coffee or tea? Then change your routine – have a cup of water instead or hold your cup in the other hand.
  • Keep check on cravings –your craving for nicotine will peak at 3-5 minutes and will pass if you deal with it.
  • Have your heard of the 4Ds? 1. Delay at least 3 – 5 minutes and the urge will pass; 2. Drink a glass of water or fruit juice; 3. Distract yourself, move away from the situation; and 4. Deep breathe–breathe slowly and deeply.
  • Get by with a little help from your friends – supportive friends, family and even work colleagues could make all the difference to you on your QUIT journey.
  • The single best advice is to help yourself QUIT by getting support from the QUIT Team. Their service is available to everyone and is free of charge.
  • By using a support service like theirs makes you twice as likely to succeed.
  • Find details of your local free HSE stop smoking supports.

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