Press Release

National smoking cessation campaign 2003/2004 proves most succesful smoking cessation campaign ever

On average 10 smokers every hour are looking for support from the National Smokers Quitline, confirmed the Minister for Health and Children, Mr. Micheál Martin T.D.

The Minister also confirmed that his new anti-smoking campaign, Every Cigarette is Doing You Damage, is the most effective campaign ever run by the Health Promotion Unit of his Department with almost 90% recognition levels.

TNS MRBI Phonebus Research, conducted in February 2004, highlights that the Every Cigarette is Doing You Damage campaign reached virtually the entire population of Ireland, with recognition levels for the advertising campaign at 89%, and 94% for smokers.11 TNS MRBI Phonebus Research Importantly over 60% of smokers said that these types of anti-smoking ads would encourage them to give up smoking.

Described by Minister Micheál Martin at the launch of the campaign, as “the most comprehensive, hard hitting and wide ranging smoking cessation campaign” ever undertaken by the Department of Health and Children, the campaign has proven particularly successful with smokers in the 15 – 35 year old age group – a key group targeted by the campaign.

The National Smokers´ Quitline, an initiative of the Health Promotion Unit of the Department of Health and Children in partnership with the Irish Cancer Society, received over 15,139 calls since launch (30th October 2003) 22 Calls to the Quitline from 03.11.03 to 15.02.04 (week 15) – 14,337. Operational from 8am to 10pm, seven days a week, the National Smokers’ Quitline received more calls than anticipated, aiding smokers in reaping the benefit of a smoke-free life. With 45% of callers directed to the National Smokers´ Quitline through the impactful television advertising campaign, over 8,200 ´Quitting´ booklets have been sent to callers detailing methods and tips for quitting the habit. Over 1,800 callers have availed of on line counseling or local smoking cessation services from their local health board.

Speaking from Cork, at the start of the Promoting Heart Health, European Consensus Conference, the Minster for Health and Children referred to Ash Wednesday as a traditional day that smokers attempt to quit. He highlighted that there is more support available today to help smokers quit than ever before. He commented that this additional support and the heightened awareness of the dangers of smoking has lead to the 4% reduction the prevalence of smoking over the last four years, now at 27%.

Commenting that lent is traditionally a time of abstinence and on the well known link between cardiovascular disease and cancers that account for 2 out of 3 deaths in Ireland, the Minister said that giving up is the single most important thing smokers’can do for their health and that of those around them.

Passive smoking advertising campaign

The Minister also formally launched, the latest advertising campaign from the Department of Health and Children, Passive Smoking Can Kill, that highlights how cigarettes impact on the health of smokers and those in their company.

Speaking at the Promoting Heart Health, European Consensus Conference, the Minster for Health and Children highlighted that exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, commonly known as passive smoking or second hand smoke, increases the risk of lung cancer, CHD, low birth weight and sudden infant death.

The 30 second TV ad, running across all stations, shows three cameos: a couple enjoying a drink as the female is being strangled by her partner´s cigarette smoke; a baby snoozing in a buggy whilst being smothered by his mother´s cigarette smoke, and finally a group of builders enjoying a cigarette break in a steal container at the expense of a non-smoker. The Passive Smoking Can Kill ad closes with the National Smokers´ Quitline: 1850 201 203.