Press Article: TV Dragon Duncan invites ex smokers who've quit into his Den 10/03/10
TV Dragon Duncan invites ex smokers who've quit into his Den 10/03/10
The North East-based businessman and President of No Smoking Day held a coffee morning for staff from Gateshead based International Paints at his Darlington headquarters to learn more about their drive to enable workers to break free of their addictions.
No Smoking Day is the UK's foremost annual health awareness campaign in the UK, helping over 1.5 million smokers quit for good since 1984.
When workers at Gateshead based International Paint told Occupational Health Nurse Manager Angela Johnson that they would like help to stop smoking, Angela got in touch with the NHS South of Tyne and Wear Local Stop Smoking Service and arranged for Specialist Stop-Smoking Advisor Michael Chappell to come on site and run sessions to help them quit.
The company, the world’s leading producer of coatings for ships, yachts and major structures, carries out a regular health survey of staff – and although only 14% of the 900-plus employees are smokers, a number of them said that they would like help to stop.
“The site here in Felling is completely smokefree and has been since 2007. We ran sessions back then to help people become smokefree which were successful, so we decided to hold more sessions based on the results of the health survey, because it was something people wanted to do,” explained Angela.
Latest research from YouGov has revealed around 114,000 of the North East’s 440,000 smokers will attempt to cut down or quit on No Smoking Day and this year’s No Smoking Day message – “breaking free of chains”- is aimed at highlighting how 70% of smokers would like to quit and increasingly feel trapped by smoking, and encourage them to take the first step by seeking advice from their local NHS Stop Smoking Service, GP or pharmacist.
One person who will celebrate this year’s No Smoking Day is 57-year-old PA Cynthia Harwood who successfully quit smoking through support at work at International Paints and the NHS Local Stop Smoking Services who came along weekly for weekly sessions.
Cynthia’s husband Joe decided to quit at the same time as Cynthia and visited his doctor to get the help he needed. The couple have been married for 39 years and have five grandchildren, decided to stop their 20 to 30-a-day habit at the same time. They had both smoked for more than 40 years and, after pressure from their grandchildren to stop smoking – Cynthia chose her mother’s birthday as the day that she would become smokefree.
That was on the 22nd of November, 2009 and although the pair were tempted to have a cigarette at Christmas they resisted and have been smoke-free since then.
Cynthia comments “It would have been so easy just to have had one, but I knew that would lead to another and another so it wasn’t worth it,” she said. “I feel so proud that I have stopped, and when my daughter told me how proud she was because I had stopped I was over the moon."
“My husband has been quite ill recently and had to stop working – and that illness was down to the cigarettes. Who knows, he might be able to get back to work again at some point in the future now that he’s off the cigarettes.”
Cynthia used patches to help her become smoke-free and said that going to the stop-smoking sessions in the workplace had helped.
“When I found out that the stop-smoking sessions were coming back on site I decided that I was going to go because it was there and easy to go during the day,” she said. “I stumbled a bit at first and stopped going – but went back. It was good to have other people to speak to and be able to support each other. It also helped that Joe stopped at the same time – he said if you stop I’ll stop and I said the same to him. It really helped that we could help get through this together.”
Michael Chappell from Gateshead PCT held weekly group sessions at International Paint between 1.30pm and 2.30pm to give as many people as possible the chance to come along either just as shifts were ending or were about to start.
“Group sessions work really well because people have moral support from each other and can share their experience of their journey to become smokefree,” he said. “We discuss the different types of support available, such as nicotine replacement therapy, zyban or Champix, and look at the carbon monoxide readings and discuss the changes that the body goes through when you quit. It is important for the group to work together because it is the weekly discussions that helps each member to be successful and at the end of the eight-week programme, 50% of the group had become smoke-free.”
“This is a tremendous result,” said Angela, “It is excellent for us as a business because it reduces the levels of sickness absence and reduces the risk of health problems associated with smoking—and it means that people are not going off-site to have a cigarette. But most of all, it is brilliant for the individuals concerned. When I talk to people who have taken part in the sessions, they tell me: ‘I feel great, I don’t smoke’ – and that is great for morale because they feel so good about themselves.”
This year’s No Smoking Day is being backed by TV dragon Duncan Bannatyne who is also urging smokers to make their loved ones proud and quit. Duncan said: “I was a smoker and I quit 30 years ago and it was the best thing I ever did, I’d urge anyone to stop."
“The NHS Stop Smoking Service offers so much help and support for smokers to quit for good. It’s just a question of taking that first step and it’s great that workplaces are supportive of staff like Cynthia.”
Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, Smoke Free North East comments “We still need to do more to help those that are still smoking as seven out of ten smokers say they want to quit. This is an addiction that kills one in two smokers, and remains our biggest killer, taking the lives of 5,500 people in the North Easter each year. If you want to quit, just give it a go."
“Smokers who do want to quit are up to four times more likely to quit successfully when they have professional help and support from the local NHS Stop Smoking Service rather than relying on willpower alone.”
The North East has seen the biggest drop in smoking in England, from 29% of people smoking in 2005 to 21% of people in 2008. Local NHS Stop Smoking Services offer one-to-one or group sessions with trained stop smoking advisers, with expert advice about managing your cravings, dealing with stress, possible weight gain and the medicines available to help you.