FORMER smokers celebrated their achievements today (Friday) at an event to mark the first birthday of Glasgow's local chemist stop smoking scheme.
And guests at the celebration, all who have stopped smoking for at least six months through the scheme, enjoyed a buffet lunch, birthday cake, achievement certificates and congratulations from NHS Greater Glasgow's Board Chairman Sir John Arbuthnott.
Since its launch, Starting Fresh With the Pharmacy Stop Smoking Scheme has offered Nicotine Replacement Therapy together with support and advice to a phenomenal 6,500 Greater Glasgow residents.
And those with success stories who attended the event at NHS Greater Glasgow Board headquarters proved just how much the project has achieved in its first year.
Sheila Dickson, from Strathblane Road in Milngavie, has stayed smoke free for one year thanks to Starting Fresh and is determined to keep up the good work.
She said: "The pharmacy staff are so encouraging and they really keep us going.
"The money I've saved through not buying cigarettes is also a brilliant boost. There's no going back now – I'm off cigarettes for good."
Elizabeth Martin, from Fernbank Street in Springburn, agreed. She said: "That's nearly a year since I quit and there's no turning back.
"It's been a real achievement, as I had been a smoker for ten years. For the sake of my health I knew I had to stop, so it was my own determination that keep me sticking to the programme and it feels great to have given up for good.
"With the money I've saved I've treated myself to some lovely new things for my house – which won't get damaged by cigarette smoke!"
William Martin, from Peat Road near Nitshill, added: "I attended a smoking support group as well as the pharmacy scheme and it was great.
The nicotine patches really helped me and I'm so pleased to have managed to give up and to be here today.""
Starting Fresh frontperson, Public Health Pharmacist Liz Grant, said: "It's been a brilliant year for Starting Fresh, and the public have been so supportive and keen to take part.
"Records show that since the scheme started 2,626 quitters have made it past the one-month mark, while 700 have completed the full 12 weeks support programme."
So how does Starting Fresh actually work?
Liz explained: "In short, this pharmacy-run service sees smokers enrol in the Project and have staff guide them through the programme for up to 12 weeks. This includes everything from medical advice and crucial personal support, to NRT - Nicotine Replacement Therapy.
"Six months after the smoker quits, they are contacted by phone and/or letter to check their progress in a bid to keep them off cigarettes for good. They are contacted again one year after their quit day and invited back in to the pharmacy to check their carbon monoxide levels."
NHS Greater Glasgow's Board Chairman, Sir John Arbuthnott, said of the event: "It was wonderful to meet people who really appreciate the pharmacy scheme and how it has changed their lives by helping them give up smoking.
"We should not underestimate the difficulty of kicking the smoking habit. I am delighted that we can help people to do it through this scheme. The people who attended the birthday celebration are now healthier, happier and rightly proud of what they have achieved."
.www.smokingconcerns.comDetails of participating pharmacies are available by freephoning 0800 389 3210, while general advice on stopping smoking is available from the Scottish helpline on 0800 84 84 84 and from NHS Greater Glasgow's Smoking Concerns team's website
NOTES TO EDITORS:
· 145 local pharmacies in Glasgow now participate in Starting Fresh
· 33% Of Greater Glasgow residents are smokers and more than two thirds of these people would like to quit
· One in five people in Glasgow die of smoking related illnesses
· in Social Inclusion Partnership Areas (SIP) are smokers. Up to 70% of all residents
Smoking related illnesses cost the NHS in Scotland an estimated £14.4 million annually
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