Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Bus leads Northern Ireland anti-smoking drive

Hop on board:  Gerry Bleakney from the Public Health Agency (PHA) and Health Minister Edwin Poots launch the PHA's new stop smoking bus
Hop on board: Gerry Bleakney from the Public Health Agency (PHA) and Health Minister Edwin Poots launch the PHA's new stop smoking bus

One in four people in Northern Ireland still smokes – and half will die from the habit.

The myth that smoking has gone out of fashion is wrong as new figures reveal that 360,000 people here over the age of 16 smoke regularly.

Six people die every day in Northern Ireland as a result of smoking, according to the Public Health Agency. A 'stop smoking' bus initiative has been launched which will travel around towns to support smokers on their journey to kicking the habit.

The bus will have 'quit kits', information and advice, plus free carbon monoxide testing.

The test reveals the extent to which lungs have been damaged from inhaling the chemicals in cigarettes. One of those urging smokers to get on the bus at its Stormont launch yesterday was Assembly Member John Dallat.

He started smoking when he was just 21 and starting out in his teaching career. "I have no excuse; it was peer pressure from colleagues," said the Kilrea man.

"Out of 54 staff, there were 48 who smoked. I'm sure if you went back to the same staff room today that number would have dropped to nearer zero, which indicates just how far we have come."

The bus will be open to the public tomorrow from 10-11.30am at Bloomfield Shopping Centre, Bangor, 1.30-2.30pm at the Abbey Centre, Newtownabbey, and 3-4pm at Sainsbury's in Carrickfergus.

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