Get through the first 72

Campaign highlights support for smokers trying to quit

People considering stopping smoking are being urged to get support to help them through the first 72 hours, and beyond.

Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell and former Bay City Rollers lead singer Gordon Clark met in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket to highlight the free smoking cessation advice offered by Scotland’s Quit Your Way service. Mr Clark, 67, a founding member of the band, successfully gave up his 40-year-long smoking habit last year after attending a local support group and starting a 12-week plan.

A campaign signposting the support available from the Quit Your Way service has already resulted in a 136 per cent rise in helpline calls and webchats in the first three weeks, compared with the same period in 2017.

The campaign acknowledges that for some people the first 72 hours of quitting can be particularly tough as the body craves nicotine, but that with the right support smokers are twice as likely to stop smoking for good. 

New research highlights that almost three quarters of smokers (73 per cent) have attempted to quit in the past, with one in five (22 per cent) currently trying.

Three quarters of those surveyed (75 per cent) agreed that the first 72 hours of giving up smoking are the hardest, with 82 per cent stating that the mental cravings can be harder to overcome than the physical cravings when quitting.

Quit Your Way Scotland is the national stop smoking service from NHS 24 and provides people who are thinking about quitting with individually tailored advice, either over the phone or online.

Ms Campbell said:

“Not everyone finds quitting smoking easy and the first 72 hours can be tough.  But with the right support, people can get through those initial difficult days and beyond.

“Trained Quit Your Way advisers are on hand to help people deal with the triggers that make them want to smoke, such as after a meal, or when out with friends.

“If you’re thinking about stopping smoking, getting the support that’s right for you can hugely increase your chances of having a successful quit attempt, and stopping for good.”

Mr Clark said:

“I’d tried to quit several times with varying levels of success, probably because I wasn’t in the right frame of mind.  Last year I knew I really wanted to make a change and went along to a local support group.

“I used a combination of nicotine patches and chewing gum and gradually reduced the size of the patches to slowly wean myself off, using gum as an emergency back-up.  By the end of the 12 weeks, I’d managed to quit altogether.

“For me, the hardest habit to break was having a cigarette first thing with a cuppa. I found the support of the group really helpful. There’s a good sense of community and you meet people from all walks of life who are having the same experiences which makes it a bit easier. I still go along to get advice and offer support to others, even though I’ve completely stopped.

“I’ve noticed a huge difference in my health. I used to be on two inhalers a day which I’ve done away with, and I haven’t had any chest infections.  My vocal range has also totally changed. Life free from nicotine feels great.”

Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of health charity ASH Scotland, said:

“As Gordon says, making that choice for yourself is key. Some smokers just stop, and find it easier than they thought. For others it can take a number of tries to find out what works best. Each time you try, you will learn something about yourself.

“There's no one way that works for everyone, but quitting smoking is well worth it however many attempts it takes to succeed. It's the best thing you can do for your own health and for those you love.”


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The Getting Through 72 advertising campaign commenced on 09 April 2018.

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