Cancer Focus Northern Ireland's Naomi Thompson (left) and Bernie Neeson (right).
Cancer Focus Northern Ireland has provided a dedicated smoking cessation service since 2003 to approximately 800 smokers each year across the most deprived wards in Northern Ireland. The prevalence of smoking among unskilled manual workers in these areas is 36 per cent compared with 25 per cent prevalence across Northern Ireland as a whole. The service is provided through GP practices, schools, youth clubs, community settings and more recently workplaces.
Cancer Focus developed a ‘One Stop’ workplace smoking cessation service, the first of its kind in the province, in order to address the high prevalence of smoking among manual workers. The service provides pharmacotherapies along with behavioural support over a 12-week period.
The workplace programme has achieved high quit rates. The overall Cancer Focus quit rates for 2011-12 are 65 per cent at four weeks and 22 per cent at 52 weeks. This compares with 79 per cent at four weeks and 35 per cent at 52 weeks for the workplace programme.
Cancer Focus has actively promoted smoking cessation in the workplace through sharing best practice and networking to encourage more businesses to take up the programme, and since 2011 the programme has been delivered at over 20 workplaces.
One of the workplaces that has taken up the programme is Chesapeake Belfast where a total of 25 staff enrolled in the programme. Seventeen people quit at the four week - a quit rate of 68%. Cancer Focus delivered the programme over 12 weeks, offering behavioural support along with nicotine replacement therapy, and Chesapeake supported staff by releasing them from work to attend their weekly reviews.
Chris Dears, general manager at Chesapeake Belfast, says: '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.'