The Public Health Agency is appealing to smokers to use the opportunity of World No Tobacco Day (May 31) to ‘Connect to quit’.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently launched the year-long global campaign ‘Commit to Quit’. The campaign aims to support 100 million people worldwide in their effort to give up tobacco through various initiatives and digital solutions.

Colette Rogers, Strategic Leader of Tobacco Control at the PHA, said: “We encourage people to connect with us and others around the world to quit.

“Although the past year has brought many challenges, it has also helped each of us to attach a higher value to our own health and well-being. If you are a smoker, one of the best things you can do to improve your health is to quit. It is also the case that the better your health in general, the better your resistance to viruses such as COVID-19 and flu.

“People can use World No Tobacco Day as the date to start their journey and improve their health.

“Quitting smoking now will have a positive impact on your health, not only in the long run, but also faster in ways you probably did not think of.

“For example, if you smoke, your fingers are in contact with your lips, which increases the possibility of COVID-19 transfer from hand to mouth.”

The ‘Commit to Quit’ campaign will support at least 100 million people worldwide as they seek to give up tobacco by quitting communities.

“We recognize that it’s a challenge to quit smoking and it can take several attempts to be successful,” Colette said.

“Please do not be discouraged from trying again, we can help.”

In light of the current pandemic, measures have been put in place to ensure continued access to PHA-funded Stop Smoking services while still following guidelines for social distancing. This includes phone contact or video calling rather than face-to-face support. These measures will ensure that you can still access Stop Smoking services in a way that is safe and easy for you.

A range of services are available across Northern Ireland that can help and support people to quit. Experienced quit-smoking staff provide a friendly, supportive service. And will help design a smoking cessation plan that will work best for you to make your quitting effort as easy as possible.

Services are offered by many community pharmacies, GP practices, HSC Trust sites, community and voluntary organizations and by Cancer Focus NI. Find your nearest free Stop Smoking service at www.stopsmokingni.info using our service tracking card.

Top Tips to Quit Smoking

  • Make an appointment to give up – and stick to it!
  • Make a plan. Think about what can help you quit smoking, such as using a nicotine replacement product, and keep it ready before the date you plan to quit.
  • Get support from your local Stop Smoking service. Also, let your family and friends know that you are quitting. Some people find it helpful to talk to friends and family who have stopped.
  • Keep busy helping to clear your mind of cigarettes. Try to change your routine (and plan alternative activities for places you associate with smoking) and avoid the store where you usually buy cigarettes.
  • Spoil yourself. If you can, use the money you save by not smoking to buy yourself something special. Use the calculator utility at www.stopsmokingni.info to see how much you can save by quitting.

For more information on available services and helpful tips for quitting smoking, visit the PHA’s www.stopsmokingni.info website.

Information on the WHO’s Commit to Quit campaign is available at www.who.int/news/item/08-12-2020-who-launches-year-long-campaign-to-help-100-million-people-quit -tobacco