Quitting smoking is a battle, but it can be won, says Marjory Burns
Two thirds of Scotland’s smokers want to quit. Perhaps you’re one of them, or you’re working, living or socialising with a would-be quitter.
Today, on No Smoking Day, British Heart Foundation (BHF) Scotland will help tens of thousands of smokers to win the battle against this deadly addiction.
Why do we care? Sadly, around 13,000 people in Scotland die prematurely from smoking-related causes each year. That includes an estimated 3,000 from heart and circulatory diseases. Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do to improve your health.
No Smoking Day merged with the BHF three years ago, and it’s one of the UK’s biggest annual health awareness campaigns. Last year an estimated one million people attempted to quit on the day. At BHF Scotland we work tirelessly to reduce tobacco-related illness and death, and research from stop smoking services shows that smokers are four times more likely to be effective in quitting if they use specialist stop smoking support and treatment.
The theme for our campaign this year is “V for Victory”, because we recognise that quitting is a battle against addiction. But it’s a battle that we can help you win.
BHF Scotland isn’t fighting this battle alone. Thousands of organisations support the No Smoking Day campaign, from local stop smoking services, to businesses, schools, GP surgeries and the military. They are the lifeblood of the campaign and are using our tools and resources to run thousands of events in the community to encourage people to quit today.
We’re also supporting the Scottish Government’s tobacco control strategy by playing an active part in its aim to create a smoke-free generation by 2034.
I was at a stop smoking roadshow last week, at our furniture and electrical store in Stockwell Street, Glasgow. As part of a series of roadshows, we invited the public to our stores to get help and advice on how to start a successful quit attempt today.
Stop smoking experts were on hand to test people’s lungage and carbon monoxide levels in order to demonstrate the harmful effects of smoking.
I met people who want to stop smoking, and I met a few who don’t but were, nevertheless, curious enough to come along to the event. And I explained to them that No Smoking Day is not about forcing anyone to quit, but about helping those who have decided they’d like to try.
It amazes me to think that decades ago smoking in the workplace and, more recently than that, in bars and clubs, was not only acceptable but seen as the norm. In 20 years’ time it would be wonderful to look back and remember, with astonishment, the days when it was normal to see someone buying cigarettes and smoking at all. When that day comes we can congratulate ourselves on how far we’ve come to make Scotland smoke-free.
When you’re ready to quit, whether it’s on No Smoking Day or any other day of the year, you’ll find all the tools and support you need on our website – www.nosmokingday.org.uk. You’ll find stories from people who have found it tough to give up smoking, but have found some ingenious ways to do it; like Vanessa, who fought off cravings by picking up her knitting needles and has now started a knitting business. And there’s an online forum where you can get support through the tough times and share advice with other quitters.
Many smokers would welcome help from their employers to quit. Research carried out by the BHF showed that two-thirds of workers would like their employers to promote campaigns like No Smoking Day in the workplace and three quarters would like information about their local stop smoking service for support.
Our free Health at Work programme helps employers to create health and wellbeing initiatives that can improve the health and productivity of the workforce. Visit www.bhf.org.uk/healthatwork
And if you’re a healthcare professional or community worker, why not visit the No Smoking Day website for information and resources to organise a stop smoking event in your area.
Join the campaign on Twitter at #NoSmokingDay.
• Marjory Burns is the director of British Heart Foundation Scotland. No Smoking Day is a BHF campaign.