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On the 11th March 2020, we acknowledge No Smoking Day - an awareness campaign that encourages smokers to quit using cigarettes, to raise awareness of the health risk of smoking and to celebrate those who have kicked the habit in the past.
The campaign began in 1984 and is now organised by the British Heart Foundation. It has since become a significant day on the wellbeing calendar for individuals and organisations alike.
In a study funded by Cancer Research UK, 1.5bn fewer cigarettes have been smoked each year in England in the past nine years. And according to the annual Healthy Ireland Survey, smokers in Ireland have decreased by an estimated 80,000 people over the past three years.
This impressive decline can be linked to more public awareness of the health risks associated with smoking, thanks to new laws on how tobacco products can be sold and advertised. These changes include adding health warnings with images on cigarette packs, banning shops from displaying cigarette products on their premises and making smoking in public spaces such as pubs, restaurants and public transport, illegal.
Research has found that smoking is one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK and Ireland, with over 80,000 deaths being reported each year.
Those who smoke put themselves at a much higher risk of developing cancer in their lungs, mouth, throat, bladder and liver, among other parts of the body.
Smoking also damages your heart and your blood circulation, increasing your risk of developing conditions such as coronary heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.
Smoking doesn’t just affect the health of the smoker, it can also have the same negative effects on those breathing in the second-hand smoke - also known as passive smoking.
Why are you quitting? - Before you begin your detox, ask yourself, why do you want to quit? Is it for your own health? Or is it to protect a loved one from second-hand smoke? Use your answer as your motivation throughout your journey.
Check in with your GP - Before you think about going ‘cold turkey’, discuss the best method of quitting cigarettes for you, with your GP. They will be able to provide you with information on various support groups, apps and medication if necessary.
Prioritise self-care - Quitting an addiction is no easy feat. Make sure that you focus on your wellbeing by doing activities that help you unwind. Listen to your favourite music or podcast, socialise with your friends, or reward yourself with a spa treatment when you hit a milestone.
Avoid triggers - Many smokers lapse in their attempts at quitting when they hit a trigger, for example, drinking alcohol and eating out. Try and find an alternative to distract your mind, such as chewing gum or texting a friend instead.
Whether you are a smoker who is hoping to quit, or you know someone who is thinking about kicking the habit, it’s important to note that No Smoking Day is not an opportunity to force your opinions on others.
Instead, No Smoking Day should be a day to recognise the health and lifestyles benefits that quitting smoking offers, and provide encouragement and support to the people who need it most.
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