As Lent gets into full swing, many people will be trying to kick their smoking habit.
To that end, pharmacists across Mayo have joined the fight against tobacco.
A nationwide quit smoking pharmacy service for the public was launched this week by Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly T.D.
Smoking, and related illnesses, is a major public health issue with 5,200 people dying every year in Ireland from diseases caused by tobacco use. One in every two smokers will die from smoking-related diseases.
The service, which is now available in community pharmacies nationwide is supported by the Irish Cancer Society and the HSE. As part of the service, pharmacists will assist smokers by giving advice on quitting and the health-related benefits. Pharmacists can also give accurate information and advice on options for quitting, including nicotine replacement therapies, which have been proven to double smokers’ chances of success.
Speaking at the launch of the service, Minister Reilly said pharmacists will use their training and skills to help smokers make tha quit attempt.
“Let there be no doubt - the single best thing a smoker can do for their health is to quit - and community pharmacists are very well placed to provide smokers with both behavioural and pharmaceutical evidence based cessation supports to make that quit attempt a successful one,” he said.
Kathy Maher, vice-president of the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU ), highlighted the significant benefits of the service.
“Pharmacists are among the most accessible healthcare professionals, and are ideally placed to play a central role in public health, such as providing tobacco cessation and other health promotion and healthcare services. Pharmacists can help motivate people to quit smoking and to stay tobacco-free for the long term, helping them decide what method works best for them and offering advice on supports such as nicotine replacement therapy to help manage cravings.
“We understand that giving up smoking is a real challenge but the health benefits are so great, it is well worth it. A smoker could get back 10 years of their life if they stop at aged 30. It is never too late to stop smoking and pharmacists want to help.”