The Western Trust’s Smoking Cessation Team has advised people quitting this No Smoking Day that there are weekly clinics locally that can help them kick the habit.
The local health team are encouraging smokers to quit smoking and reap the health and financial benefits.
A spokesperson said: “This year’s No Smoking Day message is about being ‘Proud to be a Quitter’ which is set to inspire smokers to use No Smoking Day as the day they pledge to stop smoking.
“The Trust’s Smoking Cessation Team has developed effective evidence-based services for people who wish to stop smoking and we would encourage anyone who wishes to take the first steps towards a healthier, Smokefree life for themselves and their families, to avail of the free service.
“Smoking Cessation Clinics are ran by specialist stop smoking practitioners who offer ongoing support and advice, help develop a personal quit plan based on the individual’s needs and provide information on stop smoking products, withdrawal symptoms and coping strategies.”
Derry’s cityside weekly Drop-in clinics are held in Carnhill Resource Centre on Mondays (excluding bank holidays from 6pm to 7.30pm.
The Waterside clinic is located at the Shared Future Centre Waterside, and runs on Thursdays 2pm - 4pm.
Strabane Health Centre hold’s clinics there every Wednesday from 5pm – 6.30pm.
Limavady Health Centre on Scroggy Road meanwhile hosts clinics every Wednesday 5pm – 7pm.
The Western Trust have said they are also proud to be celebrating four years Smokefree across all Trust facilities.
Josie Hughes, Smoking Cessation Nurse Specialist for the Western Trust said: “By having a Smokefree environment and providing stop smoking support services, we are enabling smokers to have the best possible chance of quitting. Research constantly shows smoking to be the single most preventable cause of illness and preventable death with 2,300 people dying each year from smoking related diseases in Northern Ireland. Our smoking cessation team has developed an effective evidence-based service that assists individuals who wish to quit smoking through adopting a non-judgmental, supportive, empathetic and flexible approach.”
She added: “I see the damage smoking does and I also see the health benefits of stopping smoking. The positive effects start immediately after the smoker puts out their final cigarette. After only 20 minutes; blood pressure returns to normal and after six months the risk of heart attack, cancer and other ‘smoking’ diseases falls. Not only is there enormous health benefits to stopping smoking, there is the additional benefit of savings. On average a 20 a day smoker could save almost £3,500 in a year.
“Most smokers underestimate the effectiveness of professional help, but more people succeed with our Specialist Stop Smoking service than with any other way. I would encourage anyone motivated to stop smoking to come along - the sooner you stop, the sooner your health will start to improve.”
Colette Rogers, Strategic Lead for Tobacco Control with the Public Health Agency, said: “Stopping smoking is the single best thing you can do for your health and wellbeing. You will notice positive health changes and have more money in your pocket. Last year the percentage of people who smoke here dropped by two percent, meaning that the proportion of the population here who are smokers is now 20% – the lowest since the Northern Ireland Health Survey began in 1983.
“While we know that stopping smoking can be a challenge, help is at hand. There are a range of services across Northern Ireland that have an excellent track record in helping people to quit. Experienced stop smoking staff provide a friendly, supportive service in a relaxed environment. They’ll help design a stop smoking plan that will work best for you to make this as easy as possible. This could include Nicotine Replacement Therapy and support to cope with cravings and enjoy a healthier lifestyle.”
Anyone who wants to know more about stopping smoking can call the local helpline on 0800 9179388 where they can speak to a member of the Smoking Cessation Team.
Gary Hamilton, 35 from Castlederg is married with two young children; he joined the Healthy Living Centre Alliance in January 2017 where he initially enrolled in the Cycling Hub to improve his fitness levels. Gary was subsequently attracted to the Smoking Cessation Program which is delivered by the alliance and funded by the PHA. By his own admission; he was overweight and needed to change his lifestyle – one year on he is like a new person and is encouraging others to follow suit.
“Working shifts and at weekends meant I eventually had to give up football, which I loved, I tried gyms but didn’t feel motivated by them and didn’t enjoy the experience. I saw the Cycling Hub on Facebook and liked the look of it, the photos of people out exercising and enjoying themselves inspired me, I started going out once or twice a week and fell in love with it.
“I got involved in the Health Promoting Homes Project, this program entails a combination of exercise, cooking and nutritional sessions and personal development and it was then that I came across the Smoking Cessation Program.
“I was very aware of the effects the cigarettes were having on my health, I thought if I was going to so much effort in other areas of my life to become healthier then stopping smoking seemed like a really obvious decision to make so I enquired about the stop smoking programme.
“The smoking cessation specialist was really good and worked with me; I was due to go to the Cheltenham Festival with a gang of friends in March so we decided that my quit date would be set for my return on March 20. I attended a weekly support meeting and discussion session every week for 12 weeks, this was really beneficial, I got to talk to other people who were quitting and we got to share our experiences and tips for beating cravings, along with being there to spur each other on. This group was a fantastic success.
“I am now a non-smoker, and will be approaching my one year anniversary smokefree and I couldn’t feel better. I have lost almost 20kg; my BMI has reduced from 29.8 to 25, with 25 being the magic number! My body fat reduced from 30.0% to 24.6% and my blood pressure has gone down. I cycle everywhere now, and enrolled to do the Cycle Leader training so that I can help others. I don’t think this would have been possible if I hadn’t of made the decision to become healthier, stopping smoking made me healthier and enhanced how I performed while taking part in physical activity.”