Belfast Telegraph

No Smoking Day

It seems that no sooner have the pancakes been tossed, stacked, covered in lemon juice and hungrily devoured than the first day of Lent is once again upon us.

It is time to give up a vice, but the question is: which one?

Chocolate, sweets and in more recent times even social networking sites, have become an indulgence to sacrifice in the run-up to Easter.

Lent is supposed to be a time of breaking old habits for 40 days and nights; a chance to turn over a new leaf and to reflect.

But abstaining from tasty food and social networking sites aside, today, for almost one million people in the UK, it will be the time to give up cigarettes.

Once the epitome of cool and glamour, Hollywood stars James Dean and Audrey Hepburn were up on the big screen making the habit look stylish and sophisticated.

Now after the link to cancer emerged, the anti-smoking lobby has grown to challenge the mighty tobacco industry.

Every year on Ash Wednesday, it has become a date in the calendar for people to be encouraged to quit cigarettes.

And, apparently, there is a desire for most smokers in the province to stub the habit out.

One-in-four people in Northern Ireland smokes and according to recent statistics, 75% of those do want to quit.

Stark figures on the impact on health may also have helped to spur the decision for smokers to try to stop.

In Northern Ireland, one in every two smokers will die prematurely because of their habit.

In Castlereagh, local sports stars are joining the call for smokers to stub out cigarettes.

The campaign was launched by Belfast Giants ice hockey players Graeme Walton and Tim Cook and Commonwealth Games athlete Amy Foster.

The sports stars are urging smokers that No Smoking Day today is the ideal time to take their first steps to giving up.

This comes as frightening figures this week also showed that, overall, the number of women diagnosed with lung cancer in the province has risen from 7,800 cases in 1975 to more than 17,500 in 2008.

But along with health warnings, the strong financial reasons to stub out cigarettes are once again being highlighted.

Smokers who puff 20 cigarettes-a-day for one year will save over £2,000 every year after they quit - that's around £200-a-month.

Surely that gives smokers some food for thought to give up.


From Belfast Telegraph