The HSE’s QUIT campaign has launched a new TV advert featuring this emotive message from Gerry Collins who has terminal lung cancer caused by smoking.
Gerry and his family have generously volunteered to be part of this new phase of the HSE’s QUIT campaign, in the hope that their story will inspire and encourage smokers to quit.
In 2011, Gerry Collins was one of three people featured in the QUIT campaign’s films and TV adverts, telling his story of recovery from tobacco-related throat cancer.
In summer 2013, Gerry contacted the HSE to say he had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, and to ask if this new chapter in his story could form a new phase of the QUIT campaign, which is a partnership between the HSE and the Irish Cancer Society.
Dr. Stephanie O’Keeffe, HSE National Director of Health and Wellbeing, said at a preview of the adverts: ‘Gerry and his family, having reflected on their previous experience with QUIT and the HSE, have allowed us a window into their family life, and into how they are coping with and reacting to Gerry’s diagnosis.
“By working with us to create new, hard-hitting TV commercials; discussing his smoking, his illness, his expected death and the anticipated loss to his family; Gerry hopes to inspire other people to quit smoking and help them to avoid the pain of illness and premature separation from their loved ones.’
Gerry’s new adverts will be used on TV, radio and online from this week onwards, and the first of these can be viewed here. TV Advert: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mposl7PnHZw , Online Extended Version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1pfiJr6kjc
Dr. Fenton Howell, National Tobacco Control Advisor, Dept of Health, said: ‘This new campaign was developed following a detailed review of evidence of similar campaigns undertaken around the world, and review of responses to first phase of the QUIT campaign.
“This review shows that testimonials like Gerry’s have a track record of being hugely effective in smoking cessation campaigns. Gerry’s unique and profoundly generous offer to create these adverts has given the HSE an opportunity to tell a powerful and impactful story and to help a lot of smokers make a quit attempt.’
Gerry Collins, attending the preview event with his family and friends from Greystones where he lives.
He said: ‘There were three reasons I decided I wanted to do this – firstly it was for myself, a positive thing for me to invest my energy in while dealing with my cancer. Secondly, I thought it would be good for my family, creating something powerful and meaningful for my kids to look back on. And finally, if even one person stops smoking because of what we’ve done, then it will all be worth it for me.”
John McCormack, CEO of the Irish Cancer Society said: ‘We are very grateful to Gerry Collins who has shown extreme bravery and generosity in allowing us the privilege of sharing this precious time in his life. I am certain that as a result of Gerry sharing his honest account of being a smoker and the impact smoking has had on his health, other smokers will be moved to take action and finally quit smoking for good and non-smokers will resist the temptation to start.’
You can QUIT – there is help:
Thousands of people will make the decision to try to quit smoking this week – or later on this year. We provide a range of free services that have been proven to double their chances of succeeding.
· Visit www.quit.ie and sign up for an online QUIT plan
· Call the QUITline 1850 201 203
· Join our Facebook support group www.facebook.com/HSEquit (64,000 and growing)
· Talk to your GP or pharmacist for help, and also supports and medications
Things you should know:
· Smoking places an enormous burden of illness and mortality on our society, affecting the 800,000 people who smoke in Ireland, their families, and to a costly and avoidable extent, our health service. Smoking is our leading cause of death, heart disease and chronic illness, and accounts for some 5,200 deaths in Ireland every year. Smoking related diseases cost the HSE €1 to €2 billion to care for annually.
· The National Tobacco Control Office in the HSE monitors national adult smoking prevalence on a monthly basis, and the current smoking prevalence is 22%, down from 28% in 2007. The most recent Health Behaviour in School Children survey has also shown a reduction in children’s smoking prevalence, down from 15.3% in 2006, to 12% in 2010. While these declines in smoking prevalence represent progress, there is a need to accelerate that progress in order to achieve tobacco free status (smoking prevalence <5%) by 2025. The World Health Organisation recommends that nations undertake a range of regulatory, legislative and public information strategies in order to reduce smoking prevalence.
· The QUIT campaign from the HSE and Irish Cancer Society has been in place since June 2011, and is based on local research, expert participation and best international evidence. Our campaign takes stories shared by real Irish people to illustrate the stark fact that ‘1 in every 2 smokers will die of a tobacco related disease’. QUIT has proven to be one of the HSE’s most comprehensive and effective social marketing campaigns, prompting over 480,000 quit attempts and providing support to many thousands of quitters.
· Since 2011, Gerry has been one of three great people who allowed their personal stories to lead the HSE’s QUIT campaign. Gerry and two of his children featured in a 30 second TV ad and a longer online film which you can see here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lZrw2SKQq4 and on www.quit.ie .
· The other stories featured Margaret O’Brien from Kilkenny, who was 17 when her mum Jackie died from tobacco related lung cancer (Watch Margaret’s story here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAUuxBTZ510 ) and Pauline Bell from Wexford, whose husband George died from a tobacco related heart attack at the age of 48. (Watch Pauline’s story here http://youtu.be/6mOVwh4Vyeg )
· These adverts have had a huge impact on smokers in Ireland, forming one of the most effective behaviour change public education campaigns that the HSE has ever been involved in. Since the campaign started, we estimate that 480,000 quit attempts have been made in Ireland, more than double the level of quits before the campaign started – and these quits can be directly attributed to the stories told by Gerry, Margaret and Pauline.
· Results from QUIT – since June 2011:
Visits to QUIT.ie
The HSE monitors uptake of all the above support services on an ongoing basis, and since the QUIT campaign began in 2011, average uptake of online support services has more than doubled, with calls the QUIT line remaining steady.
· Based on ongoing behavioural research, both in Ireland and internationally, we know that consistently only 5% of all quitters use a support service; most go ‘cold turkey’. Based on the 24,000 people who used our online interactive QUITplan, only one of the range of supports offered, an estimated 480,000 quit attempts have been made in Ireland since June 2011. This is a conservative estimate as a range of other supports, via the QUITline, GPs and Pharmacists are also provided. Most smokers make a number of attempts before finally succeeding, and the more attempts a smoker makes, the more likely they are to quit for good.