Fergal, Belfast

Having been reared when everybody was addicted to nicotine, from the doctor smoking in his consultation to normal practice at the back of buses and planes, 32 years of smoking was stubbed out when I brought in the smoking cessation adviser to our company.

Having a counsellor and, if required, nicotine replacement devices at my disposal provided me with good foundations to assist my willpower, as well as the group setting enabling me to work through any cravings. One day at a time became one week, and now 18 months later I have regained 97% of my lung capacity, have stamina to play with my kids, and diverted nearly £5,000 from cigarette purchases to better uses.

The most striking thing I have noticed is that smoking really stinks you out. I had to divert my trolley to another aisle due to the reek of another shopper in front of me. You, your clothes, car, house and those in your near vicinity all reeked worse than a stale ashtray – it’s true.

Yes, I still have my urges, so I spoil myself – even though I have to watch the weight gain as a cigarette no longer substitutes a snack. Do it – a lifestyle change that ticks all the boxes and challenges you. Consider yourself to be a non-smoker – not a quitter. So many people will thank you for it – from the supermarket shopper to the surgeon.

Brian Fegan, (BCC)

Being given the opportunity to quit smoking in work was excellent. Having a dedicated smoking cessation adviser in the workplace, who is ready to give advice and support, was not only helpful, but also a crucial motivating factor in ensuring my success.

Seeing the ‘Tar Jar’ for the first time was a true eye opener. Seeing the tar first hand, and being told what toxins it contains, was pretty stomach-turning. The carbon monoxide test is also an excellent motivational tool, as it allows you to gauge your progress weekly and shows how much of the toxins eventually leave your body. The help I received was crucial in ensuring my success. The NRT products I received also meant that I didn't have to wait for an appointment at my doctor.

To anyone thinking of quitting smoking, I cannot recommend it enough.

Anonymous DSD employee

Dear Denise and Belfast City Council,
Thanks to Belfast City Council’s Workplace Smoking Cessation Programme, I really feel that I have finally managed to kick the habit!!!

I have tried a few times before but this has been my most successful and hopefully last attempt at stopping. Having Denise come into my workplace definitely was a BIG factor in my successful attempt to give up.

Trying to fit in going to see a nurse at my GP’s with work would not have worked and I really benefited from getting the one-to-one support and advice from Denise, and the free NRTs, which also definitely helped.

It was very motivating seeing the same person each week and getting positive feedback and encouragement, along with sound common sense and handy hints. As there were a few of us at work who gave up together, it was really good having that sense of being together and we gave each other support and encouragement.

Since giving up, I have joined the gym and am definitely enjoying the benefits (both financial and physical) of giving up. It has not been easy and I still have to work at not picking up a cigarette, but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. Thanks.

Chesapeake Corporation Ltd

Chesapeake Belfast supports their staff to ‘kick the habit’. As part of Chesapeake’s Health and Wellbeing Programme, and in partnership with Cancer Focus Northern Ireland, staff were offered support within their workplace to give up smoking. A total of 25 staff enrolled in the programme and 17 people reached the four week stage - a quit rate of 68%. Cancer Focus Stop Smoking Support Service delivered the programme over a period of 12 weeks and offered behavioural support along with nicotine replacement therapy, eg patches, gum, inhalator. Chesapeake supported their staff along the way by releasing them from work to attend their weekly reviews.

Chris Dears, General Manager, commented: “Our partnership with Cancer Focus has been a fantastic success, and their professionalism, knowledge and experience coupled with their flexible approach to meet the needs of our employees working shifts will have a long-lasting impact on the business.”

Elaine McNeill, Human Resources, said: “We would like to thank Cancer Focus for their support. The feedback from all employees taking part was extremely positive, with each finding the weekly one-to-ones so important. The advice and support each person received each week in setting realistic yet challenging goals on their personal journey, alongside the encouragement offered and the overall approach of the stop smoking specialists, were key to the success of the programme.”

Wendy Watson, employee at Survitec Group, Dunmurry

I haven’t had a cigarette for the past seven months. I’ve been trying to quit for the past three years and after my granddaughter had to have cardiac surgery, I didn’t want any trace of smoke around her. Cancer Focus were providing a stop smoking support programme and I signed up along with my friend Heather and other workers. The weekly support was very helpful and seeing my carbon monoxide levels go down kept me motivated.

I am really proud of myself and I don’t even think of a cigarette anymore. I look forward to seeing my latest grandchild and I don’t have to feel guilty anymore.