Spending, not smoking!

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Deciding to give up cigarettes is one thing, but carrying the pledge through is a completely different challenge, as millions around the world know.

With health messages on every corner, there’s no avoiding the message that smoking kills. The medical consequences of smoking have been proven and documented but for many the battle to crush the habit is still too much.

This year, the Chest Heart and Stroke foundation has tapped into an another issue on everyone’s lips and focused on the idea of spending in the run up to No Smoking Day next Wednesday, March 13. In a major campaign, ‘Swapping Fags for Swag’ hopes to make smokers aware of what the money they spend on cigarettes could potentially buy them.

A number of local people have taken part in the campaign which is being organised locally by the Neighbourhood Health Improvement Project (NHIP) in the Outer North, Waterside, Triax and Hazelbank and Ballymagroarty areas.

Natalie Logue, NHIP worker in the Outer North area, believes the campaign will hit home with people.

“We have people from each of the four areas in our project who’ve gone out and seen what their money can buy them if it’s not being spent on cigarettes and when you see how much money is being spent it really is shocking.”

Young people Emma Lee Goan and James McGaughey got a real shock when they were given a makeover to the value of what they spend on smoking habits. New outfits courtesy of Tommy Hilfiger and Boudoir Boutique showed just where else the money could be spent, as the pair explained:

‘We’ve really enjoyed being a part of the no smoking day campaign. We both smoke and it’s made us realise that our money could be put towards something a lot better than the cigarettes. Smoking won’t make us look good but these great outfits will,” said Emma.

Thirty year old father of three, Christopher Daniels quit smoking two years ago and now says it’s the best thing he has ever done. Apart from the health benefits, Christopher, who took part in the campaign in the Hazelbank and Ballymagroarty area says he’s also felt the difference in his finances.

“I have a young family to think about now not just myself, I can’t be selfish and waste years of my life by smoking,” says Christopher.

The local man says he now has more money in his pocket to spend on time with his family. Christopher has also recently started up his own football team FC Corinthians Junior and Youth based in Ballymagroarty, open to all regardless of ability or gender. The club currently has 80 members and growing.

In a task which shows the most practical benefits of saving money, local women Maire White and Margaret Cassidy went shopping at Centra on Derry’s Trench Road.

“We really enjoyed taking part in this campaign on behalf of the Pink Ladies and we were both shocked at the price people pay for cigarettes and just exactly what you can but for that money. It was amazing and would definitely make you want to try and give up.”

Michelle McLaren, Pink Ladies co-ordinator, is supporting the campaign and says local support for the campaign has been great.

“We’re delighted that so many local people have taken part. We want to thank in particular the businesses like Boudoir Boutique, Centra Trench Road and Tommy Hilfiger. It’s important in terms of the campaign that people here can see the practical difference that giving up smoking can bring and Pink Ladies are proud to be taking part.”

Natalie Logue, NHIP worker in the Outer North area says: “This year’s campaign is a really visual one and looking at what the money can buy is definitely a way to make people stop and think about giving up smoking and improving the quality of their health in the long term.”

The project is funded by DSD, the Western Health and Social Care Trust and the Public Health Agency.