Smoking - the financial, physical and emotional cost

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IN the lead up to No Smoking Day Northern Ireland’s leading local cancer charity Action Cancer is highlighting the cost of smoking - the financial, physical and emotional costs and encouraging smokers who want to quit to visit their local Gordons Chemists to receive stop smoking support.

Catherine Foreman, Senior Health Development Officer at Action Cancer explains: “A 20-a-day smoker spends £7 on a packet of cigarettes every day – that’s £2,500 a year!

“But not only does this habit cost a smoker financially, it also costs them serious damage to their health. 24% of the population in Northern Ireland choose to smoke1 yet smoking is the single greatest cause of preventable illness and premature deaths in Northern Ireland, killing 2,300 people each year2.“In addition to the financial and physical costs of smoking, there’s also an emotional cost to consider. A person with a smoking related disease is not the only one who will suffer - immediate family members and friends will also feel the burden of a harmful addiction to smoking.”

To help smokers kick the habit Northern Ireland’s leading pharmacy Gordons Chemists is offering a free 12 week smoking cessation scheme from all of their 49 pharmacies across Northern Ireland.

Joanne Wright, Professional Services Manager from Gordons Chemists said: “Although some people can successfully quit on their own, many need some help and support to successfully stop.

“If smokers call in to their local Gordons Chemists during March we’ll be glad to offer them a free twelve week smoking cessation programme of advice, support and nicotine replacement therapy, individually tailored for each participant. In the past the scheme has proved very successful so we’d encourage anyone who is considering quitting to call in and see how we can help.”

Kathy Biggerstaff,36 smoked 20 cigarettes a day for 15 years.

She quit the habit two years ago and credits her children as the reason she stopped: “It was following a school visit by Action Cancer’s health promotion team when my children Alise (11) and Jude (8) came home and asked me if I knew the damage smoking did to your health. By the time they went through all the health risks with such concern for me, I decided there and then to stop. I took my packet of cigarettes and binned them immediately. From then on I went cold turkey.

“It was a struggle for the first few months but with the support of my family I was determined to stop. I work at Action Cancer so witnessing the devastation that cancer can bring to families also played a big part in helping me quit.

“I hadn’t realised the impact of my smoking until I stopped: I joined the gym and took up the challenge of a spin class without fear of passing out from breathlessness, food started to taste so much better, and my house and car no longer smelt of smoke.

“My kids are over the moon with my success, and to be honest so am I. They’ve even managed to make my mother quit her 30-a-day habit as well.

“Every now and again when Alise spots someone smoking she’ll ask, ‘Mummy, you’ll never smoke again, will you?’, and I can honestly say that I won’t.”

As two-thirds of smokers start before the age of 183 a lot of Action Cancer’s health promotion work focuses on prevention – stopping young people before they ever start to smoke.

Also as part of Action Cancer’s MOT health checks, advice is offered to existing smokers on how to quit and how to access appropriate services to help them stop.

Action Cancer’s Catherine Foreman concludes: “It is never too late to stop smoking – no matter how long you have been a smoker. No smoking day is an ideal time for smokers to make an effort to stop. If we can make people fully aware of all the costs of smoking we hope they’ll take their first steps towards a healthier and wealthier, smoke free life this March.”

For further information on Action Cancer’s health promotion work contact 028 9080 3344 or see www.actioncancer.org. To pick up Action Cancer’s No Smoking leaflet and to find out more information about Gordons Chemists 12 week smoking cessation scheme call in to your local Gordons Chemists store.