Giving up smoking is a serious business – but the focus is on fun throughout Greater Glasgow today when NHS Greater Glasgow celebrates No Smoking Day.
Smoking is the biggest single preventable cause of premature death in Glasgow, where one in five people die because of their smoking habit.
This year NHS Greater Glasgow is mounting its biggest-ever drive to help local smokers quit – and No Smoking Day kicks off a series of initiatives in the city and beyond over the next few weeks to assist smokers give up tobacco.
One of the main activities in Glasgow today is a day-long event at St Enoch Centre to promote the wide range of help and advice available at local pharmacies, which includes access to free or low-cost Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) patches on the NHS directly from pharmacies – without the need to go to a doctor or nurse for an NHS prescription.
Radio Clyde DJ George Bowie is visiting the stand in St Enoch Centre to lend his support, and staff from NHS Greater Glasgow's Pharmacy Health Promotion and Smoking Concerns – NHS Greater Glasgow's specialist tobacco project – are offering prizes and incentives to smokers pledging to quit, including nicotine patches, T-shirts, hats, umbrellas, pens, caps, clocks and toothbrushes. And for those who decide to take the plunge, there'll be the option of smokelyser tests to measure carbon monoxide levels in their blood.
A team of pharmacists specially trained in smoking cessation are on hand to deliver specialist advice throughout the day, from 10am to 3.30pm, and will refer clients to community pharmacies for continued support closer to home.
Quitters' packs are also being handed out along with lists of pharmacies participating in the direct supply scheme– and even "begging letters" for children to hand to mums, dads, and other loved ones they want to see stop smoking.
A total of £10,000 worth of promotional items, ranging from balloons, T-shirts, umbrellas, leaflets and stickers is being distributed throughout the area by Smoking Concerns, NHS Greater Glasgow's specialist tobacco project, to coincide with No Smoking Day.
It's anticipated that more than 100 localised events, organised mainly through frontline NHS staff in the area's Local Health Care Co-operative (LHCCs), will be held in various parts of Greater Glasgow today.
Meanwhile, workers in more than 200 Glasgow workplaces – all businesses signed up to the Scotland's Health at Work (SHAW) award scheme –are being encouraged to stub out smoking through a variety of No Smoking Events, including competitions, lucky dips and health fairs.
Evelyn Borland, Acting Director of Health Promotion with NHS Greater Glasgow said:
"We know that giving up smoking can be very difficult and that's why we are expanding our frontline services. We want more people to take advantage of what's on offer to help them stop. The No Smoking Day events here will highlight in a fun way what can be done to tackle what is a deadly serious health issue for many people."
"Nearly 38% of the population in the NHS Greater Glasgow area are smokers but stopping smoking is the single most effective way of improving your health.
For more information on stopping smoking, contact Smoking Concerns on 0141 201 9825.
Today's No Smoking Day events in Greater Glasgow are part of a wider campaign to encourage local smokers to quit.
Next month (April 2003), NHS Greater Glasgow launches its biggest ever stop-smoking campaign with the help of local pharmacists and smoking cessation groups in 15 Local Health Care Cooperatives(LHCCs).
Smokers will be able to pop into pharmacies throughout Greater Glasgow participating in the scheme to provide free or low-cost Nicotine Replacement Therapy patches on the NHS plus advice on how to quit, without having to go to a GP or nurse for an NHS prescription.
Meanwhile, LHCC smoking cessation groups will provide smokers with intensive support to give up smoking. Contact Smoking Concerns on 0141 201 9825 for details of nearest groups.
Smoking kills 13,000 Scots per year and half of all lifelong smokers die prematurely, losing on average seven or eight years of life.
Annual inpatient costs of NHS Greater Glasgow because of illnesses related to smoking run to an estimated £14.44 million.
Media inquiries: Communications Office, NHS Greater Glasgow tel 0141 201 4429.