A total of 1,430 people using stop smoking services across Northern Ireland signed up to quit during last year’s No Smoking Month.

The Public Health Agency (PHA) and Cancer Focus Northern Ireland are now urging thousands more to stub out their cigarettes and ‘Make March Your Month to Quit’.

Smoking causes 25% of all cancers in Northern Ireland and is our greatest cause of preventable death and disease, Cancer Focus NI warned.

Not only that, but a 20 a day smoker who decides to quit could save themselves around £3,950 a year. That means you could save £19,650 in five years and £39,950 in ten years.

Cancer Focus NI’s Naomi Thompson said: “Stopping smoking is the most important thing you can do to improve your health.

“Most smokers want to stop – there are just so many health benefits. Twenty four hours after stopping, lungs start clearing out your build-up of mucus and within three to nine months, your lungs will absorb up to 10% more oxygen.”

Naomi added: “Smokers are four times more likely to quit if they get help, and we have been providing that support for more than 50 years, consistently getting a 68% quit rate in four weeks.

“We hope you are ready to stop in March – No Smoking Month – but you can pick a date any time and Cancer Focus NI is more than happy to help and give you lots of tried and tested tips to make quitting that bit easier.

“We will look at coping with cravings, managing stress, avoiding weight gain and developing a healthy lifestyle. You don’t have to face it alone.”

Colette Rogers, Strategic Lead for Tobacco Control with the PHA, said: “We are calling on people to use March as the perfect opportunity quit the habit. While we know that stopping smoking can be a challenge, help is at hand. There is 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.

“The support services will help design a stop smoking plan that will work best for you to make quitting as easy as possible. This could include Nicotine Replacement Therapy and other support to cope with cravings and enjoy a healthier lifestyle.”

Cancer Focus NI’s award-winning stop smoking service is funded by the PHA. More than 70% of all people who attempt to quit smoking use services provided by community pharmacies. Stop smoking services are also available in GP practices, and a range of health and wellbeing centres, community settings, workplace and youth settings including schools.

No Smoking Month is coordinated in Northern Ireland by Cancer Focus NI and includes a partnership with the Department of Health, the PHA, the Health Living Centres Alliance, Health and Social Care Trusts, and local councils.

For more information on the services available and useful tips to stop smoking, visit www.cancerfocusni.org/stopsmoking or the PHA’s www.stopsmokingni.info site.

Lee Foster receives his stop smoking certificate from Trudy Barnes, Cancer Focus NI stop smoking specialist
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