Smokers Preparing To Stub It Out In Countdown To Workplace Ban

The countdown is under way with exactly seven weeks left from today before the Government stubs out smoking in Northern Ireland’s workplaces. In 49 days’ time, it will be illegal to smoke in all enclosed workplaces across the province – including pubs, clubs and restaurants.

And with No Smoking Day set to be marked on Wednesday, anti-smoking campaigners are today handing out timely advice to those hoping to quit the habit.

The Ulster Cancer Foundation said that giving up cigarettes was “the most important thing smokers can do to improve their health”. Spokesman Gerry McElwee said: “We would remind smokers to prepare their plan of action, have support from family and friends and set themselves a target, such as a quit date, whether it’s No Smoking Day on Wednesday or the day we become smoke- free on Monday April 30”.

Leading health psychologist Dr Melanie Giles also advised smokers on how to deal with temptation when trying to kick the habit.

The University of Ulster expert examined the findings of a survey carried out for nicotine replacement therapy brand NiQuitin, which found that 68% of Northern Ireland smokers believe quitting their early morning cigarette will prove one of the toughest challenges.

Having a smoke with a social drink (69%) and after dinner (77%) also ranked as key moments in trying to beat the addiction.

Dr Giles said: “Succumbing to a cigarette before breakfast shows the level of dependency among smokers. Holding out for as long as you can before the first cigarette of the day can be very helpful for quitters because it gives them a sure sign that they are really kicking the habit.

“As soon as you feel the urge, distract yourself. Pick up a stress ball, read the paper, make a call or take a brisk walk. It’s always a good idea to have a list ready of things to do throughout the day. Keeping busy when trying to quit is absolutely essential. “

Najla Loughlin, territory manager for NiQuitin, added: “The psychology of smoking is a very interesting area. Cravings or ‘temptation moments’ caused by nicotine withdrawal occur at any time, and they don’t stop when you do.”

Meanwhile, Macmillan Cancer Support has said that Government exemptions to the ban – which include smoking in a private room in a hotel or residential home and prisons – are “disappointing”.

General manager Heather Monteverde said: “Second hand smoke is widely recognised as carrying significant health risks and we need to remember that the exempted premises are also workplaces. People who work in the exempted premises will not have the protection they deserve. We would argue that these exemptions do not recognise the gravity of what is one of Northern Ireland’s biggest health challenges.”