No Smoking Day ASH comment – smokers sick of it and wanting to quit. Hints and tips for those that want out…

Wednesday 13 March 2002

ASH news release:  Embargo: 00:01 Wednesday 13th March 2002
Most smokers are sick of smoking and want out according to a new report based on a survey commissioned by ASH and the No Smoking Day charity [1]. 83% of smokers say they would not smoke if they had their time again and list five main reasons – health, money, addiction, “disgust” and social stigma. The actual words used by smokers [2] show a deep level of anxiety and despair that contrasts sharply with the image promoted by tobacco companies. The tobacco companies want to portray smoking as carefree, chic and independent, but the reality is that most smokers would not smoke if they had an unfettered free choice. The truth is that addiction to nicotine denies free choice.

A new website [no longer online] has been set up by No Smoking Day to give the 83% of dissatisfied smokers a platform to express their views. For too long, the voice of smokers has been captured and misused by tobacco companies and their front groups.

Backed by the survey, we give six reasons to quit:

1.       Health – on average each cigarette takes 11 minutes off your life. Smoking causes 50 diseases of which 20 are fatal.  You have a one in two chance of dying from smoking if you carry on.

2.       Money – a 20 per day habit costs about £1,600 per year. Even buying smuggled cigarettes would cost £1,000 per year. The average smoker contributes £800 in tax to the government each year.

3.       Addiction – you may not be ill yet, but what if you can’t stop when you want to? The Royal College of Physicians states that cigarettes are addictive on a par with heroin and cocaine. Each year of smoking makes the addiction deeper and the difficulty of quitting greater.

4.       Control – smoking is demanding on time and energy. Cigarette breaks, buying cigarettes, finding places to smoke, dealing with smells and dirty clothes.

5.       Stigma – passive smoking has meant smoking is increasingly marginalized – a trend that is unlikely to reverse.

6.       It works! – quitting is sometimes difficult, but never impossible. The benefits start as soon as you stop, and the sooner you stop the less at risk you are. It is never too late people still benefit from quitting in their 70s, and benefit a lot if they are younger.

Based on experience, we offer five tips on how to quit:

1.       Pick a date – even if you don’t quit on No Smoking Day itself, use the day to decide when you will – giving yourself enough time to prepare.

2.       Prepare – get as much information together as you can, so that you know what to expect and all the tricks that help people deal with withdrawal. If you are worried about putting on weight think about diet and exercise – and remember that any weight gain is likely to be temporary. Use the ASH website resources.

3.       Support – get help. Ring the NHS Smokers’ help line (0800 1690169) or Quit (0800 002200). Enrol a local smoking cessation clinic or talk to the doctor. Support starts at home – stop with your partner and with the backing of your family and friends.

4.       Medication – use nicotine patches, gum or other products or ask your doctor about Zyban. These treatments help to deal with cravings.

5.       Avoid temptation – don’t go to the pub three days after quitting and avoid smoky environments.

Clive Bates, Director of the anti-tobacco campaigning group ASH, said:

You can’t do any more for your health, wealth and well being than to quit smoking. Most smokers now see smoking as a curse and blight on their life and want out. Half the battle is to get past the nonsense that smoking is a pleasurable free choice and recognise that it is a potent addiction.

Doreen McIntyre, Chief Executive of No Smoking Day said:

I hope that the many smokers that really are sick of smoking will vent their feelings on the new web site – and say what they really think. If they’re ready to stop then No Smoking Day is a good time to have a go. This is not about forcing anyone to quit, but supporting the millions of smokers that have basically had enough.


Notes and links:

[1] No Smoking Day, A picture of misery – smokers’ views on smoking (pdf) – see press release.

[2] Verbatim responses of smokers see list of responses (pdf)

[3] For smokers that want to quit – see ASH quitting resources

Contact:  Clive Bates 020 7739 5902 (w) 077 6879 1237 (m) ISDN available
                 Doreen McIntyre: 020 7916 8070 (w) 077 7065 7241 (m)