People who want to quit smoking are being encouraged to take up #TheLastStop no smoking challenge in March.
Research shows that if a person can quit smoking for 28 days, they are five times more likely to quit the habit for good.
Smokers are being encouraged to take up this challenge, starting on March 2. The HSE will provide support to anyone taking part via its HSE QUIT service. This service includes a QUIT Kit, daily messages or phone calls, an online quit plan and face-to-face support from local stop smoking advisors.
"We know that seven out of 10 people who smoke want to quit. However, an important step that people often miss out on is the preparation. Setting a date to quit and equipping yourself with the information, tools and supports you need to quit will make a huge difference.
"On an average day, the HSE supports 1,500 people to stop smoking. Get in touch with the QUIT service now and get ready to quit on March 2," advised Martina Blake, national lead with the HSE Tobacco Free Ireland Programme.
Research commissioned by the HSE found that when it came to their last quit attempt, around 30% of smokers used no help at all, while another 30% used e-cigarettes.
"E-cigarettes are still fairly new, so we don't yet know how safe they are and it will take some time for us to fully understand the risks and benefits.
"There are still questions about whether they work as stop smoking aids. Because of this, we don't recommend e-cigarettes to help you quit smoking," explained Dr Paul Kavanagh, a public health medicine specialist with the HSE.
He pointed out that around a half a million people attempted to quit the habit last year, and he acknowledged that it is "a big step to take".
"We want to be sure that people have the information and support they need to maximise their chance of becoming smoke free. Our best advice is that using safe and effective stop smoking support increases the chance of success," Dr Kavanagh said.
This March, six QUIT leaders nationwide aim to quit smoking with support from HSE QUIT. You can follow their progress on quit.ie and find out details about the QUIT Roadshow, which will be travelling the country.
QUIT leader, Brandon Furlong, said that he has decided to quit because he has asthma "and it's been playing up lately".
"Plus I am on the panel for the ambulance service and I want to get back to peak physical condition. Life is too good and too short to be smoking and making it shorter. I want to become a quit leader because I have been down this road a couple of times and I know how hard it is too stay on course. This time I know I can do it and help others too," he said.
For more information on the HSE QUIT service, click on quit.ie or call 1800 201 203. Calls are free of charge.
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