Call to stub it out on No Smoking Day

Call to stub it out on No Smoking Day

Belfast City Council is urging more businesses to sign up to their free service which has helped more than 1,000 people quit smoking in the last five years.

On National No Smoking Day the council is hoping more businesses will sign up to the service, which is supported by the Public Health Agency.The smoking cessation service is offered to businesses in the Belfast area and gives support and motivation to employees who want to stub out the habit.Sinn Féin Councillor Steven Corr, chairman of the council's Health and Environmental Services Committee, said: "Giving up cigarettes is no mean feat and this service offers very practical help and support to people who are determined to quit, including nicotine replacement therapy. Out of the 1,034 people who have enrolled in the service since it started in 2008, 434 were able to quit within four weeks."Aside from the obvious health benefits of giving up smoking, it's also beneficial for businesses. Research from the British Heart Foundation suggests that cigarette breaks cost employers around £1,800 each year for every full-time worker who smokes. So supporting staff to break the habit is a win-win situation for everyone."The council service has helped workers at the Department for Social Development who enrolled on the smoking cessation programme.Katrina Doak, from the DSD's Corporate Support and Wellbeing Team, said: "We've been working successfully with the council's smoking cessation service since 2012. At that time, our health and wellbeing survey showed that more than 64% of staff who smoked wanted help to quit."The Public Health Agency directed us to the council service and since then, 65 of our staff have taken part in four clinics that we have ran jointly. We already have another clinic planned and will be encouraging staff to quit on No Smoking Day on 12 March. As a NICS government department, we want to help change people's loves for the better, and that includes our staff."In Northern Ireland around 360,000 people aged 16 and over smoke, and sadly one in every two will die early because of their habit.Gerry Bleakney, Public Health AgencySmoking is still the single greatest cause of preventable illness and premature death in Northern Ireland.To coincide with No Smoking Day, the Western Trust has banned smoking on its grounds, including at Altnagelvin Hospital, where a smokers' hut was dismantled earlier in the week in preparation for Wednesday.The Public Health Agency, Cancer Focus Northern Ireland and British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland are all calling for smokers to quit the habit.Gerry McElwee, Head of Cancer Prevention at Cancer Focus, said: "Research has shown that over two thirds of smokers in Northern Ireland would like to stop. No Smoking Day is one of the best times for smokers to escape their addiction so we are encouraging smokers to make Wednesday 12 March 2014 the day that their smoke-free life begins."Stopping smoking is the most important thing that you can do to improve your health but it can require commitment and planning.We provide stop smoking support services across Northern Ireland, including the Smokers' Helpline, which are funded by the PHA and are free and confidential."They are very informal and offer individual and group support. We talk about smoking habits, tips for giving up and how to cope with cravings, and in the last year helped two-thirds of those who used our services to stop smoking within four weeks."

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