Third of smokers vow to kick their habit this year

A THIRD of Irish smokers have vowed to kick the habit in 2008, motivated mostly by saving money rather than concerns for their health.

Research shows almost nine out of 10 smokers have already tried — and failed — to give up.

A survey of almost 600 smokers carried out by Empathy Research and sponsored by NiQuitin found that half do not smoke a cigarette every day, indicating a trend towards “social smoking”, which is most prevalent among the 18-24 age group.

The other half of smokers consume an average of 10 cigarettes a day, meaning that giving up would save them €1,365 a year.

More than half of smokers said they would find it easier to stick to a diet or give up chocolate, than to give up cigarettes.

A total of 87% of smokers said they wished they had never started in the first place. Two-thirds started because of peer pressure, and stress was the main reason for continuing to smoke.

Of those who have vowed to quit for their new year’s resolution, almost half (49%) said the cost of cigarettes, which increased by 30 cent in the budget, is the main factor in their decision.

A mere 28% said health concerns were their main influence in trying to give up.

The National Smoking Quitline, run by the HSE and the Irish Cancer Society (ICS), is experiencing its busiest time of the year, with more than 100 calls yesterday from people seeking support and advice on how to give up.

Co-ordinator Brenda Flannery said giving up can be very difficult, but is “the single best thing a smoker can do for their health”.

Ms Flannery said many people go back on cigarettes because of a crisis in their lives or complacency. But she said one of the biggest reasons people fail in their efforts to quit is that “they think they can have just one. They don’t realise just how addictive nicotine is”.

The ICS has the following advice for anyone planning to quit:

* In preparation, examine closely your smoking habits. When are you most likely to smoke? Is it with a cup of coffee or when you are with friends who smoke?

* Work out how you are going to cope with these situations once you give up.

* Set a date to stop, one when you will not be under too much stress.

* Get rid of all cigarettes from your home.

* When you give up, changing routine is one of the key elements to success. So, instead of sitting in front of the TV smoking at night, go to the cinema or for a walk.

* If you relapse, learn from experience. What was the trigger that made you smoke again?

* Make a list of things you will do next time you are tempted.

For more advice contact the National Smoking Quitline on 1850 201 203.

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