Working life: Martina Blake, HSE lead for the tobacco-free programme

I get breakfast and finish organising school lunches for my three kids — Aoibhe (8), Callum (6) and Hollie (4). 


I drive to Carlow to catch the 8am train to Dublin. Catch up on emails en route.


There’s a meeting of the National HSE Tobacco Free Ireland programme group starting at 10.30am, which I chair. 

The room is booked from 9am, so I continue to respond to emails and make sure the teleconference facilities are set up for those connecting to the meeting remotely.


The group has senior management and clinical representation from across the health service and its role is to contribute to identifying evidence-based, best practice policies, programmes, initiatives and infrastructure to support the Tobacco Free Ireland Programme. 

At this meeting, much of our focus is on planning for the launch of our QUIT campaign. The 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. 

If you smoke and want to quit, the HSE will help you. For this campaign, we have taken a new approach to telling these stories, using Gloria Gaynor’s much-loved song, I Will Survive. 

There is also a discussion about performance on the targets we have set for providing smoking cessation skills for healthcare staff. Research shows if a patient gets support from a health professional to quit smoking they are more likely to quit for good.


I grab a quick salad in the canteen.


We hold a planning meeting to discuss World No Tobacco Day on May 31.

In Ireland, we know that seven out of 10 smokers want to quit and four out of 10 smokers make a quit attempt. This year we want to support people to make a QUIT attempt together on World No Tobacco Day. 

We provide free support by phone 1800 201 203, and for free texting QUIT to 50100.


Catch the train back to Carlow and log in to complete a performance report requested by the Department of Health.


Help Callum with homework and collect Aoibhe from scouts.


Tonight I have my aerobics class. My husband and I take it in turns to get out in the evenings for exercise.


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