Services aimed at helping people to quit smoking need to be properly funded, and smokers must be encouraged to use them, if Ireland is to reduce the number of smoking-related illnesses and deaths that occur here annually, a major international conference will be told today.
Every year in this country, around 7,000 people die as a result of tobacco use. The conference, ‘Working Together Towards a Tobacco Free Society', has been organised by a number of agencies, including ASH Ireland, The Irish Cancer Society (ICS), the Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) and the HSE.
Research released by Pfizer to coincide with the conference found that 90% of smokers believe they are addicted or would find it very hard to give up smoking. It also found that many smokers have actively tried to quit the habit a number of times, with current smokers saying they had attempted to quit almost four times.
"Research has proven that support services can play a significant role in helping people quit smoking. As many smokers want to quit, there is need for a comprehensive and uniform approach for stop smoking services nationwide. Such services would encourage and assist the one million smokers currently living in Ireland to quit and reduce the unacceptably high level of tobacco-related deaths here," commented Norma Cronin, health promotion manager of the ICS.
Meanwhile according to the research, when asked if they think smokers are less productive than non-smokers as they need to take breaks while working, over 63% of non-smokers agreed compared to just 39% of smokers.
Today's conference will hear how the World Health Organisation (WHO) has selected ‘Gender and Tobacco' as the theme for World No Tobacco Day, which takes place on May 31. This theme will pay particular attention to the issue of marketing to women.
In Ireland, 27% of the female population (aged 16 and over) smoke and over 2,400 Irish women die as a result of smoking-related diseases each year. European research shows that across Europe, women are less confident in their ability to quit smoking than men (30% of women versus 53% of men).
Furthermore, 42% of women in Ireland would not consider visiting their doctor for advice about quitting smoking, even though WHO research shows that just brief advice from a healthcare professional can increase the likelihood of a smoker staying off cigarettes by up to 30%.
According to Karen Gutierrez of Global Dialogue for Effective Stop Smoking Campaigns, who is one of the guest speakers at today's conference, tobacco companies are aggressively marketing to women throughout the world and as a result, ‘we need to be equally aggressive in our public education efforts'.
"We must make women aware of the very serious negative impacts of smoking - the great majority of women know smoking is dangerous, but few realise how very bad the impact can be on them and their children and we must let them know about the most effective ways to quit smoking.
"We should support them in their quitting attempts and provide them with tools and resources that will increase the likelihood that they will be able to quit for good," Ms Gutierrez said.
The conference is taking place in Dublin's Mansion House.
Originally from Ireland, I now live in Australia and I am trying ot get a campaign- month off the ground here call the Quitober Challenge where employers are encouraged to support & sponsor their staff smokers to quit for $31 during October (and hopefully for good). Similar type awareness campaigns are run in Canada & had some 46,000 smokers take part this year, run by their Cancer Society.I cant seem to get any interest or support from the powers that be here in Australia, I guess that they are caught up in their ongoing TV ad. fear campaigns that they have persisted with for the last 15 years with no change.If anyone was interested in supporting such an idea over there in Ireland I would be only too pleased to work with you to get it going.