Pharmacy backs ‘kick smoking’ campaign

A local pharmacy is spearheading a drive to help smokers kick the habit.

People can avail of a free advice and motivation service which uses the latest health testing technology at University Late Night Pharmacy at Newcastle Road on Ash Wednesday, National No Smoking Day.

The Irish Cancer Society estimates that 70 per cent of smokers want to give up cigarettes. Experts say the most important factor is the desire to quit and being properly motivated to do so.

A series of simple breath tests can assess how addicted the smoker is and also measure their “real lung age”, says Audrey Kinahan, a pharmacist and the owner of University Late Night Pharmacy. “Returning for regular checks can be a useful motivational tool for quitting-smokers to track their progress. We are offering this free technology as part of our Quit Smoking Programme. On National No Smoking Day Wednesday 9th March any smoker thinking of quitting can meet our smoking cessation advisor, Adele Ward, to discuss and assess their smoking habits and patterns.

“A free breath test determines the patient’s carbon monoxide level. These results are then used to assess how addicted the smoker is. A second breath test determines their ‘real lung age’.”

If the smoker decides to quit, the pharmacy’s Quit Smoking advisor, pharmacy intern Ms Ward, will design a personalised quit smoking programme based on his/her individual habit and pattern.

Smokers are given useful tips on quitting and can return for further free consultations where they can discuss their quitting success, withdrawal symptoms and cravings and scientifically assess their progress through free breath testing.

“Quitting smoking is very difficult and smokers need all the help and support they can get,” stresses Ms Kinahan. “We have been offering a free carbon monoxide monitoring service for quitting-smokers for many years. But the latest technology is a big advance as it lets smokers assess their addiction and track their progress in a more visual way which is much more motivational.”

While all smoking is harmful it poses additional risks to pregnant women. It can also reduce fertility, and smoking during pregnancy can increase the risk of miscarriage and lead to lower birth weights, she outlines.

University Late Night Pharmacy provides a special free maternity carbon monoxide testing service for expectant mothers. Specialised equipment is used to show mothers-to-be not only their carbon monoxide reading but also that of their unborn baby and the average expected birth weight if they continue to smoke. The service gives an estimate about the effects of secondhand smoke, such as a partner’s smoking habit, and how it can add to the damaging effects of carbon monoxide on the unborn foetus.

Smoking is the single most important preventable cause of illness and death. Some 7,000 people die from smoking related disease in Ireland every year. Fifty per cent of all smokers will die from smoking related diseases. Smokers lose an average of 10 to 15 years from their life expectancy.

Smokers have an increased risk of cancers, heart disease, strokes, low birth weight and many other diseases. It costs Ireland €1 billion per year to provide health services for smokers.

A non-smoker living with a smoker has a 25 per cent increased risk of lung cancer and a 30 per cent increased risk of heart disease. Passive smoke exposure increases the risk of stroke by 82 per cent. Standing in the path of a smoker or their cigarette or being in a room in which there are smokers means being exposed to at least 50 agents known to cause cancer and other chemicals which increase blood pressure, damage the lungs and cause abnormal kidney function.

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