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SMOKING QUITTERS ON THE INCREASE

September 26, 2006 4:21 PM

Increasing numbers of smokers have stubbed it out during the first six months of the national smoking ban thanks to services provided by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

And the health board's pharmacy-led "Starting Fresh" scheme, the first and biggest service of its kind in the UK, has seen its figures double over the same period last year following the banning of smoking in public places on March 26 this year.

 Liz Grant, Public Health Pharmacist, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said:

"Since the introduction of the smoking ban in Scotland in March, over 4,000 clients have accessed Glasgow smoking cessation services.
"It is really great to see so many people trying to tackle their smoking habit.

"Even more rewarding is that, since the ban, over 1,500 people in Glasgow have still kicked the habit four weeks later. 

"Smoking cessation services in Glasgow are really easy to access.  Just pop into almost any community pharmacy in Glasgow to find out how you too could join the growing band of ex-smokers."

Helen Gold (66) from Paisley, smoked her last cigarette on April 6, after 53 years of puffing through 20 cigarettes a day.

She had tried to stop five years ago, but started again because of lack of support.

This time Helen says her success in quitting is due to the range of smoking cessation services and products, and the ban.

She said: "I started when I was 13-years-old and it was just to make me look big.

"I decided to stop when I caught a chest infection earlier this year and my GP asked if I wanted to stop smoking.

"I'm a pensioner and I really couldn't afford it, I was spending £28 a week on cigarettes.

"I started saving the money in a jar and since April I've used the cash to buy things for the house, including a new shower and blinds, and paid bills.

"I began going to a local smoking cessation group and for the first two weeks I used patches and then one day I realised I hadn't put one on that morning but I didn't have any cravings, and so I just stopped using them.

"Now I find the smell of cigarette smoke revolting.

"I'm now eating better and I can walk up and down the stairs to my flat without getting out of breath."

Since the smoking cessation services were launched three years ago, including groups run by trained smoking cessation advisers, around 42,000 people have accessed them to ask for help and support.

"Starting Fresh" operates through 200 or 93 per cent of pharmacies throughout Glasgow and offers free Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products such as patches and inhalers to those exempt from NHS prescription charges.

Quit success rates four weeks after stopping so far have reached up to 38 per cent since the pharmacy initiative was launched in 2003.

A key factor in the success of "Starting Fresh" is its "drop-in" approach, where clients can access NRT and support from their community pharmacy for up to 12 weeks or be referred on to a Group where appropriate. 

Pharmacies are easily accessible with extended opening hours and in many cases open seven days a week.

No appointment is necessary to speak to the trained pharmacist or assistant to find out about the scheme. 

Clients who have successfully quit cigarettes have made comments ranging from
"It's the best thing I have done for my health and my family.  I wish I had done this years ago" to "I am so grateful for taking part in Starting Fresh, after 32 years of smoking I was finally able to quit."

Agnes McGowan, Principal Health Promotion Officer for Smoking Concerns, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde's specialist tobacco project, said:

"In the build up to the legislation, NHS stop smoking services were introduced into each local community, with additional staff based within health centres offering groups in a variety of community halls and NHS premises like hospitals and health centres.

"The intensive support services have seen a three fold increase in attendance.
 
"The new legislation has been a good trigger in encouraging smokers to think about being smoke free. 

"Many smokers report that having places like pubs and restaurants smoke free reduces the temptation to smoke in those early days of adjusting to being a non smoker.
 
"We want to assure smokers in the city that when it's the right time in their life for them to quit that the Glasgow Stop Smoking Services are here to help them.


"All the evidence suggests that getting intensive support together with Nicotine Replacement Therapy means that they are four times more likely to be successful."

Notes to editors:

Information about smoking cessation groups and other advice is available on the following websites, www.nhsgg.org.uk; and www.smokingconcerns.com or telephone 0141 201 9825; and by calling the Smokeline on 0800 84 84 84.

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