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News / December 16, 2008

HPA gives smokers 4,000 reasons to quit

by Guy Hiscott

The Health Promotion Agency for Northern Ireland (HPA) is encouraging smokers to resolve to kick their habit in the new year with a hard hitting public information campaign highlighting that every time a smoker has a cigarette, they are inhaling over 4,000 chemicals – that’s 4,000 reasons to stop smoking. 

Dr Brian Gaffney, Chief Executive of the HPA, said: ‘This campaign has been timed to encourage smokers to make quitting their 2009 new year resolution and to support and keep them motivated. Research shows that one of the most important elements in successfully stopping smoking is planning ahead, so these advertisements will be broadcast in advance of the new year to enable smokers to think ahead and set 1 January as their quit date. We know that the majority of smokers (75%) want to stop and this campaign has been designed to motivate them to make a serious quit attempt.”’

The campaign incorporates television, radio, online and outdoor advertising. The radio advertisements have been developed in the form of testimonials to highlight the less well-known health effects of smoking, such as throat cancer and gangrene.

Attending the launch and addressing the audience was an ex-smoker of 42 years, Gary Burnside, who was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer in spring 2005. Mr Burnside said: ‘I was careless of the damage to my body that could be caused by smoking. As the cancer in my larynx was not arrested by radiotherapy, I eventually had to have the necessary laryngectomy, which meant removing my voice box. The result of this was being speechless for two weeks and being fed through my nose. I was then told I would have a voice prosthesis valve, which meant I was able to speak again without a voice box. However, this required a period of time to learn to communicate with the valve.’

Dr Gaffney concluded: ‘We know that stopping smoking is not easy and smokers can make more than a dozen quit attempts before they successfully stop smoking for good. We want smokers who see and hear the campaign to feel motivated to make a quit attempt and take advantage of the smoking cessation support that is available for them.’

There are more than 600 smoking cessation services across Northern Ireland. Smokers can contact the Smokers’ Helpline on 0800 85 85 85, which offers free support and advice and can also direct them to their nearest smoking cessation service. Smokers can also text ‘QUIT’ to 60900 to receive support by SMS and can visit the smoking cessation website at The campaign will run from 29 December 2008 until 26 January 2009.