A Derry MLA who has first-hand experience of how hard it is to ditch the ciggies has urged smokers to kick the habit tomorrow for No Smoking Day.

SDLP Health Spokesperson Mark H Durkan MLA said giving up for good on March 14 will save your money and your health.

“I know that it is not easy, having to give up myself many times but it is the best single decision any smoker can make.

“It will save you money and it could save your life,” he said:

“One small step can drastically change your health and the health of those around you.”

Mr Durkan continued: “Smoking is the single greatest cause of preventable illness and premature deaths in Northern Ireland. Each year, up to 2300 people will die here as a result of a smoking-related illness.

“And it’s little wonder. With every puff, 4000 chemicals enter a smoker’s body many of which are considered toxic and at least 50 of which are known to be carcinogenic.

“Kicking the habit won’t just do you a world of good, it’ll also protect the people you’re with, especially children, from passive smoking. The more rapid breath rate of children puts them at greater risk of second hand smoke inhalation, making them more susceptible to respiratory tract infections like pneumonia and bronchitis as well as a worsening of asthma or middle ear disease.

“And you’ll be joining a growing club. Last year the number of people who smoke in Northern Ireland dropped by 9%. It’s not easy but there’s an array of services that can help you beat the butt. Your local GP, the stop smoking service, friends and family are all at hand and ready to support your decision.

“The most important step is deciding to stop, though. After that, make a plan to sustain that decision by using gum, inhalators or patches. Whatever you’re most comfortable with.”

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