People who are hoping to quit smoking are being reminded that it can take a number of attempts, but support is available.
According to the HSE, quitting is ‘a process' and using a support service, such as the HSE QUIT service, makes you twice as likely to succeed.
"Quitting smoking is a process. Most people who quit successfully do so after several attempts, so please don't give up on trying to quit for good. It is definitely worth the effort. You will save money, feel better almost immediately, and most importantly, you will avoid the very real risk of serious, long-term and life-threatening illnesses," commented Martina Blake, lead of the HSE's Tobacco Free Ireland programme.
She made her comments to coincide with National No Smoking Day (March 6), which every year falls on Ash Wednesday.
"We asked our ‘You Can QUIT' Facebook community if Ash Wednesday is still an important day to quit and 72% of people said it was. Setting a date to quit at any time of the year and making a plan to prepare gets you off to a great start.
"National No Smoking Day is a perfect opportunity to quit or make a plan to quit, especially for people who may have given up smoking for the New Year, but had a setback," Ms Blake said.
She emphasised that the QUIT Facebook community is a great source of support, with over 100,000 people using this resource.
Not surprisingly, concerns about health are the main reason people tend to want to quit and according to Dr Paul Kavanagh, an advisor to the HSE Tobacco Free Ireland programme, this makes sense as it is well known that the habit ‘is incredibly harmful to your health'.
"One in two people who smoke will die from a smoking-related illness. Sadly, this week alone, over 100 people will die as result of smoking, and over 1,000 people will be hospitalised because of disease caused by their smoking.
"Stopping smoking is the single most important thing you can do for your health. The good news is that the benefits of quitting are immediate. Within just one day, your risk of heart attack begins to fall and after one year, your risk of heart attack is cut in half," he explained.
Dr Kavanagh highlighted the fact that there are now more quitters than smokers in Ireland, and he encouraged people to contact the QUIT service if they want to stop smoking.
You can contact the QUIT team by calling 1800 201 203, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, texting QUIT to 50100 (free of charge), tweeting @HSEQuitTeam or visiting facebook.com/HSEQuit
The QUIT team can help you to set a quit date and prepare yourself in every way possible for it. It will phone and text you back throughout your quitting process for up to six weeks, and longer if you need it. If you prefer to meet someone face to face where you can have your carbon monoxide levels assessed (the gas that displaces oxygen in your blood when you smoke), check out its local smoking cessation clinics here
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