Belfast Telegraph

Smokers urged to kick the habit

The number of people who die from smoking-related illnesses each year equals the death toll of 90 fatal double-decker bus crashes, it has been claimed.

The Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) will mark National No Smoking Day on Wednesday by calling on the new Government to help cut the 6,500 lives lost from associated diseases each year. It also urged smokers to quit the habit through a range of supportive initiatives.

The IHF maintained if 72 passengers were killed in 90 double decker bus crashes it would equal the number of tobacco-related deaths in Ireland.

Michael O'Shea, chief executive of the IHF, said: "Smoking doubles a person's chances of having a stroke and almost trebles their chances of having a heart attack.

"Every time a smoker inhales, they are inhaling chemicals such as nail polish remover, car battery fluid and insecticide."

For help, the IHF Stop Smoking leaflet is on www.irishheart.ie or patients can talk to a nurse on Locall 1890 432 787.

Meanwhile the Irish Cancer Society (ICS) said National No Smoking Day was an opportune time for the 70% of smokers who want to quit.

Norma Cronin, the charity's health promotion manager, urged smokers to take the first positive steps by getting support from their GP, pharmacist, dentist or calling the National Smokers' Quitline on Locall 1850 201 203. It called on the new Government to devise a plan to cut the smoking rate to 20% by 2020.

To mark the day, ICS will distribute free copies of its Giving up Smoking CD through the Sun newspaper, Eason's Bookshop, its office on 01 2310539 and on www.cancer.ie.

The Health Service Executive revealed smoking cessation counsellors will be on the National Smokers' Quitline from Monday to Saturday, 8am to 10pm. Its website, www.giveupsmoking.ie, also gives a wide range of facts, tips and advice, and allows smokers to sign up to their personal Quit Plan with ongoing online support.

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