6,500 deaths every year linked to smoking

LIVES lost to smoking in Ireland would equal 90 double-decker bus crashes every year in the country.

This shocking comparison by the Irish Heart Foundation is a wake-up call to smokers wanting to quit today — Ash Wednesday and national No Smoking Day.

Smoking-related illness accounts for the loss of 6,500 lives every year — about 18 people dying every day.

“We know it is not easy to stop smoking. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug but our message is that it’s never too late to stop and it is about finding a way that suits you,” said its chief executive, Michael O’Shea.

A recent survey of more than 13,000 people in Britain found that while over 60% want to quit, over half of them found it difficult to go a day without smoking.

With about one million smokers in Ireland at any one time, the Irish Cancer Society believes tackling the country’s high smoking rate must be a priority for the new Government.

“We won’t tackle cancer if we don’t tackle smoking. That’s why the Irish Cancer Society (ICS) is calling on the new Government to devise a plan to cut our smoking rate by 20% by 2020.” said ICS spokes-woman Kathleen O’Meara.

“New laws like the smoking ban have made Ireland a great place to be a non- smoker but now we need a new plan which must include community support for quitters, education programmes for young people, keeping the price high and tackling smuggling.”

Quitting on Ash Wednesday is not only good for people’s health, it’s good for their wealth as it costs over €3,000 a year to maintain a 20-a-day habit. The Health Service Executive’s director of public health, Dr Fenton Howell said: “Taking one day at a time, the 40 days of Lent are a good start for anyone trying to quit.”

Dr Howell encouraged people wanting to stop smoking to use the wide range of supports available.

Supports

* The National Smokers Quitline is a helpline provided by the HSE in partnership with the Irish Cancer Society and offers a team of trained smoking cessation counsellors who can help smokers to quit: 1850 201203.

* HSE website — www.giveupsmoking.ie — gives a wide range of facts, tips and advice with online support.

* Pharmacists helping smokers to quit and supporting them to keep trying if they fail.

* Many HSE health promotion departments, GP and primary care teams, offer dedicated smoking cessation support services, including one-to-one sessions on quitting.

* The Irish Heart Foundation has produced a Stop Smoking leaflet at www.irishheart.ie. Smokers wanting to quit can also talk to an Irish heart Foundation nurse on 1890 432 787.


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