Cancer Focus Marks No Smoking Month In March

MLAs at Stormont engage with Cancer Focus NI to mark No Smoking Month

To mark No Smoking Month, Cancer Focus Northern Ireland held a drop-in event at Stormont for MLAs to find out more about the impacts of tobacco, the rise in vaping amongst young people, and the Stop Smoking support services that are available across Northern Ireland.

There are around 35,000 smoking-related hospital admissions each year, about 2,200 deaths.

It is estimated that £218 million is spent each year by the health service to treat tobacco related illnesses.

This is why Action on Smoking and Health (ASH NI), a subcommittee of Cancer Focus NI, launched their Smokefree NI 2035 manifesto last year.

The campaign advocates for a new comprehensive Tobacco Control Strategy, smoking prevention programmes for young people, as well as increasing the age of tobacco sales to 21 years. 

South Down SDLP MLA Colin McGrath with Naomi Thompson, Health Improvement Manager, Cancer Focus NI.

Throughout the month of March, Cancer Focus NI in partnership with the Public Health Agency has been encouraging individuals to ‘Make March Your Month to Quit’ through public awareness campaigns which highlight the help that is available to make people’s quit journey as easy as possible.

MLAs learned about the range of services that help people to quit smoking which are offered in community pharmacies, GP practices, HSC Trust premises, community organisations, and by Cancer Focus NI.

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Colin McGrath MLA, said: “It has been great to learn about the services available to people who want to quit smoking across Northern Ireland.

We know that illnesses caused by smoking are totally preventable.

“I’m glad that we have a restored Assembly so that we can work towards making smoking a thing of the past and address new challenges such as vaping and new forms of nicotine addiction.

“Already I have been encouraged by the fact that Northern Ireland could be included in a Westminster bill to phase out the sale of cigarettes and tackle vaping amongst young people.”

Naomi Thompson, Health Improvement Manager, Cancer Focus NI, speaking at the No Smoking Month drop-in event for MLAs, said: “It is great to be at Stormont today to speak with elected representatives about the harms of smoking, and how we can best support people on their quit journey.

“Studies have shown that people are four times more likely to quit with help.

“For this reason we are here today to inform our MLAs about the Stop Smoking services that are available right on their constituent’s doorstep.

“Across Northern Ireland, specialists are available to provide free tried and tested tips to make quitting as easy as possible. Everyone who avails of these services will be supported to cope with cravings, manage stress, avoiding weight gain, and developing a healthy lifestyle.

“We would encourage any smoker who is ready to quit, or even curious about giving it a go, to make March their month.

“Quitting is not something you have to do on your own.”