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HSE QUIT Smoking campaign builds on momentum

QUIT Smoking St Josephs Mental Health Day Centre Health Care Centres Organ Donor Quit Smoking HPV vaccine Suicide Prevention Cervical Check roscommon Mental Health HSE Michael Fitzmaurice Home Care Diabetes

The HSE has launched the latest phase of the award-winning QUIT Smoking campaign, which uses powerful real-life stories to encourage smokers to quit for good.

Launched by Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, the new QUIT Smoking campaign builds on the success of previous testimonial adverts, and celebrates the fact that today in Ireland, there are more ex-smokers than current smokers – and if you smoke and want to quit, the HSE will help you to join them.

Speaking at the launch Martina Blake, National Tobacco Control Lead for the HSE, said

“Our new TV and radio adverts celebrate the growing, supportive community of quitters across the country, many of whom work hard to support each other as they face their next quit attempt. The campaign features a cast, including some real life ex-smokers, who generously share their experience of quitting to inspire others.”

“Like real-life quitters, some people in the ad are in the moment of giving up, others are in a moment of truth around the effect smoking has had on their life; but all are defiant in the face of cigarettes and the harm they do. For this campaign, we have taken a new approach to telling these stories, using the words and music of Gloria Gaynor’s much loved song, ‘I Will Survive’, which we found mirror the feelings and stages many quitters go through on their journey to being free of cigarettes. We also believe that using music in this campaign will mirror the uplift, pride and joy that we know people feel when they quit for good.”

Amanda White from Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, quit smoking over a year ago and features in the new campaign.

Describing the support from the HSE QUIT service, she said ‘They rang me every single week for the first four weeks, and every morning I woke up to a text, which was brilliant because it was really motivational – they were there for me. I can firmly say that I’m never going to smoke again and if I can give one piece of advice to anybody – just take one day at a time, because that’s all you can do.’

Launching the campaign, Minster Harris said

“We know half of all smokers in Ireland report making a quit attempt. Therefore, smoking cessation is key to achieving a Tobacco Free Ireland. I have no doubt that the QUIT campaign played a big part in the reduction that we have seen in the numbers who smoke. The campaign, through TV, radio and, very importantly, social media, has continuously reached out to smokers. We know that support and information is central to helping smokers to succeed.

Six thousand of those lives are taken from us every year because of tobacco addiction. Six thousand preventable deaths every year. Our Tobacco policy, Tobacco Free Ireland, sets a target for Ireland to be tobacco free by 2025. In practice, this means a smoking prevalence rate of less than 5%. This is an ambitious target. But Ireland’s ambition has made us international leaders in this policy area and, with 6,000 lives at stake each year, ambition is the only option.”

In relation to tobacco measures the Minister stated that, “8% of our children report that they currently smoke. Four years previously this was 12%. The current generation of young people have grown up without knowing what it was like to smoke in pubs and restaurants. They have grown up without seeing tobacco packs displayed behind shop counters. Those reaching school-age now will grow up without the heavily branded tobacco packs and see cigarette packs in plain packaging. This is the de-normalisation of smoking – which is one of the key themes in our tobacco policy.”

Smoking is the single biggest cause of illness, disability and death in Ireland.

– 23% of the Irish population smoke; and about 19% smoke every day.

– 6,000 deaths in Ireland per year are attributable to smoking; every day, 16 people die, and every week, 115 extended families grieve the loss of a loved one, all due to tobacco related disease.

– Many hundreds of thousands more live with long-term illness and disability caused by smoking.

– The largest group of smokers are aged 25-34 year olds (33%). Most smokers are aware of health implications and the majority of them are planning to, thinking about, or trying to quit. Smoking costs the publicly funded health services in Ireland €500 million annually. In the acute hospital sector alone, smoking was responsible for more than 100,000 inpatient episodes; 1 in 3 due to respiratory disease, 1 in 5 due to cardiovascular disease and 1 in 10 due to cancer – all attributed to smoking.

This campaign aims to encourage smokers to make a quit attempt, to join the friends around them who have made the leap. It reminds them that when they make that decision to try to quit that there are people and supports available free of charge from the HSE to help them – support that will double their chances of success.

The HSE QUIT service provides personalised, free, proven support by phone, email, SMS and live chat. The new ad encourages smokers to free call 1800 201 203 to talk to the QUIT Team or to visit www.quit.ie to view personal stories from the campaign, get smoking cessation tips and create a personalised quit plan. Quitters can also get peer-to-peer support at the HSE QUIT Facebook Page www.facebook.com/HSEQUIT and follow on Twitter at HSE QUIT @HSEQuitTeam #QUIT #IWillSurvive