Record Number Of Smokers Try To Quit In Advance Of Smoke Free Legislation

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A record number of smokers have attempted to quit in advance of the introduction of Smoke Free legislation in Northern Ireland.

Evidence from community pharmacy smoking cessation services has shown that in the four months prior to April 2007 - 4,500 smokers set a quit date, more than five times as many as the same period last year.

The Minister said "One month on from its introduction, the smoking legislation seems to have boosted many smokers resolve to quit with pharmacies reporting that five times as many people as last year have come forward for help. This is a record number for Northern Ireland.

"Although the purpose of the legislation is to protect the public from the damaging effects of second-hand smoke, it appears to have encouraged many smokers to seek help to end the habit.

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"I understand that giving up smoking can be a difficult process and although surveys over the years have consistently shown that around 70% of smokers would like to quit, many find it hard to do. It is therefore important that cessation services are available to support smokers in their efforts to quit"

Mr McGimpsey continued: "There are over 300 community pharmacies providing cessation services. They are doing a fantastic job."

The pharmacy service offers smokers who are ready to quit a 12 week programme of advice and support with free Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) available for those who do not pay for their prescriptions.

The Minister concluded "Stopping smoking is the single biggest step that anyone can take to improve their health and the wellbeing of those around them. I am therefore delighted that 4,500 smokers have signed up to quit with community pharmacies."

Smokers who want more information about their local community pharmacy cessation service or other services and advice on stopping smoking can contact the Northern Ireland Smokers' Helpline on 0800 858585.

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