Smoking is the biggest cause of preventable death and disease in Ireland.
The single most positive thing you can do for your health is to quit smoking. We know you have probably heard it all before, but we cannot stress it enough.
Tobacco smoke contains around 7,000 chemicals. Many of these are poisonous and over 69 are known to be cancer causing (carcinogenic). When you inhale smoke, these chemicals enter your lungs and spread around the rest of your body.
Scientists have shown that these chemicals can damage important genes. This causes cancer by making your cells grow and multiply out of control.
One third of all cancers are caused by smoking. More men in Ireland die from lung cancer than any other cancer but it goes so much further than that. Cancers of the mouth, throat, larynx, kidney, oesophagus, stomach and bowel are also heavily linked with smoking.
And in addition to increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke your smoking causes you many other problems:
- Smoking causes erectile dysfunction and impotence. This means you may have problems getting an erection and getting your wife or partner pregnant.
- Smoking causes osteoporosis (thinning and weakening of your bones).
- Smoking around your children can also cause serious health problems for them. They have a higher chance of developing lung cancer, asthma, allergies, ear infections, and other health problems.
- Smoking damages the skin and causes wrinkles, making you look older than your years.
Take some inspiration
If you need some motivation, read these inspirational real-life stories about quitting:
“I used the excuse for a long time that it was too late the damage was done, I thought I was too old to quit, I soon realised it wasn’t, after a couple of tough weeks I began to feel so much better. I called the Quitline for support and using simple quitting tricks like carrying around a bottle of water to keep the hands busy when the cravings hit and chewing gum I am now quit 8 months.” Tom says he has no doubt in his mind that if he can quit, anyone can.
“It was no big deal at first, I could take them or leave them, I never saw myself as addicted to cigarettes, but it was only when my new girlfriend started hassling me about quitting that I realised I was hooked. Finally I stopped after my first year exams over the summer when I was more relaxed and away from smoking buddies, I had to get into the right head space. I set the date, planned for when the cravings would kick in, using the 4 Ds. Delay, Distract, Drink water and Deep breath, these really helped. Every day now I wake up feeling healthier and happy. The most important thing for me in giving up was getting the right attitude. I really wanted to stop and I was determined and positive and I very glad now it worked.”
Help is at hand
What about setting a date to quit? Because the good news is that it is never too late to benefit from quitting. After you quit, the health benefits are immediate and your risk of getting lung cancer and other cancers keeps falling.
If you want to quit smoking, you can get lots of help. Call the National Smokers’ Quitline on 1800 201 203 and speak with a stop-smoking adviser who will talk you through all your options.
You can also visit www.quit.ie, which includes handy, practical tips for quitting and describes the treatments available that can help you quit for good.
We Can Quit programme
We Can Quit is a free group programme for people who want support to quit smoking.
The programme runs for 7 to 12 weeks. It includes weekly support in a stop-smoking group, 1-to-1 support with a facilitator and free medicines to help you stop smoking.
The weekly group sessions are led by a local facilitator who is a trained stop-smoking advisor. The groups can be female only, male only or mixed.
Your facilitator will also give you 1-to-1 support every week by phone or text at a time that suits you. They will ask you how you are getting on and answer any questions you have. They can also help you get back on track if you have a slip-up.
To support you to quit successfully, you can also get a 12-week supply of stop-smoking medicines for free.
We Can Quit groups are run by community organisations throughout the country.
Contact your nearest organisation to find out if there is a We Can Quit programme starting soon or call the National Smokers' Quitline on 1800 210 203 to find out about programmes in your area.
If you are serious about quitting smoking and taking control of your health, there is a method to suit you.
For more information
1800 200 700