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No Smoking Day 2022: What can you do to quit?

Health organisations and Senedd Members have united to show support for No Smoking Day, a national campaign which encourages smokers to quit on the second Wednesday of March each year. 

This year’s campaign message is centred around ‘Never Quit Quitting’, which encourages smokers to not give up as each quit attempt brings a smoker closer to success. The campaign has reinforced this message through the voices of UK healthcare professionals, who have offered encouragement and first-hand insights into the benefits of quitting.

Professor of Respiratory Medicine Keir Lewis has supported the campaign in Wales, saying: ‘’Today is a solid reason to seek support, and not give up on quitting. Free and effective support is available through our NHS services, which are known to drastically increase your chances of success’’.

It is estimated that 45% of Welsh smokers try to quit annually. Despite this, only 3% of Welsh smokers access NHS smoking cessation support each year, despite research showing that support can increase success up to three times.

To compliment calls of healthcare professionals, the health charity ASH Cymru has paired up with the national smoking support service ‘Help Me Quit’ to highlight support available in Wales. The organisation has created a short video outlining what a smoker would receive through NHS support, which includes:

  • Access to ‘Help Me Quit’ advisors (face-to face, virtual or via telephone calls).
  • Tailored cessation services which wrap around a smokers needs.
  • Nicotine replacement therapies.

CEO of ASH Cymru, Suzanne Cass has called for smokers to use No Smoking Day as a catalyst for change. She said:

‘Today is a yet another solid reason to take charge of your health and to stop smoking. To anyone who has struggled to quit, you are not alone and there are services here to support you.

‘The NHS ‘Help Me Quit’ service is a brilliant resource which offers fantastic support for people who are eager to quit. Such support can increase your chances of quitting threefold’’.

Members of the Senedd joined in the campaigns efforts by meeting with ASH Cymru and offering support.

John Griffith’s MS, the chair of the Cross-Party Group on Smoking and Health spoke with ASH Cymru, and said:

“I would encourage anyone to seek help and to not quit on quitting, as smoking remains the leading cause of ill-health and premature death in Wales.

‘No Smoking Day is a brilliant cause, which not only highlights the avenues of support available in Wales, but also pulls into focus the benefits of quitting’’.

The health benefits of stopping smoking are immediate, as in as little as 8 hours a smokers carbon monoxide levels halve, and are significantly reduced after two days of quitting. After a two weeks blood circulation improves, and after 3-9 months lung function can increase by up to 10%. Within a year of quitting, the risk of a heart attack is halved compared to the risk of a current smoker.

In addition to health improvements, stopping smoking also holds financial benefits. Research conducted by Cancer Research UK has estimated that the average smoker could save over £2,000 each year, if they manage to quit successfully.

Beyond personal finances, it is estimated that the NHS in Wales spends approximately £302 million on smoking related illness and disease each year. Smoking is still the number one cause of death and disease in Wales, and is considered to be one of the leading causes of health inequalities in the nation.

Given the considerable harms smoking ensues on the population, the Welsh Government have recently launched a strategy to tackle smoking prevalence in Wales. The Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Lynne Neagle, has launched the strategy with the ambition for Wales to become smoke-free by 2030, which would mean a national smoking rate of 5% or less.

If you are interested in stopping smoking, please visit the NHS ‘Help Me Quit’ website on: helpmequit.wales . The service is also available via freephone on 0800 085 2219.