Home > HSE announces free Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) for anyone who wants to quit smoking.

[Health Service Executive] HSE announces free Nicotine Replacement Therapies (NRT) for anyone who wants to quit smoking. (22 Feb 2023)

External website: https://www.hse.ie/eng/services/news/media/pressre...

This National No Smoking Day (Wednesday, 22nd February 2023), the HSE is delighted to announce that nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) are free from local stop smoking clinics as part of a package of supports on offer to people who quit smoking through the HSE QUIT service.

NRT are licensed medicines that safely give you lower levels of nicotine to help you get through cravings and withdrawal symptoms that can double your chances of quitting for good.

In 2022, almost one in five people in Ireland smoke* (Healthy Ireland, 2022). The prevalence of smoking in Ireland remains at 18% and has not declined since 2019.  

Visit QUIT.ie to take back control over smoking. Sign up to a personalised quit plan and find contact details for your local stop smoking clinics.

Dr Paul Kavanagh, HSE Public Health Medicine Lead with the Tobacco Free Ireland Programme, outlines how NRT works: “We sometimes talk about smoking as a choice but the reality is that it is an addiction.   Nicotine makes cigarettes addictive and hard to give up. You will double your chances of quitting for good if you get support from QUIT.ie and use NRT, which is now provided free from local stop smoking clinics.

“NRT are safer than smoking because they don’t contain the other poisonous chemicals, like tar and carbon monoxide, which are present in tobacco smoke.

“They come in many different forms like patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers and mouth sprays and often work best when you combine them together in a way that suits you. For example, use a long-acting patch combined with a short-acting nicotine mouth spray or lozenge.

“Using NRT, over a full course of 12 weeks, doubles your chances of quitting smoking in combination with all the encouragement, emotional and behavioural support available from HSE Stop Smoking Advisors before and after you quit smoking. I would recommend anyone who is thinking about stopping smoking to consider making a quit attempt with help from NRT and a Stop Smoking Advisor to give themselves every chance of staying quit for good.

“NRT products are checked for safety by the Health Products Regulatory Agency (HPRA) in Ireland, and following a comprehensive assessment by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), they are recommended as a safe, effective and clinically sound way to stop smoking in the National Stop Smoking Guidelines.”

Martina Blake, National Lead, HSE Tobacco Free Ireland Programme, explains how you get free NRT: “There are over 60 Stop Smoking Advisors based around the country to support anyone who wants to quit smoking. You do not need to be referred by your GP or doctor. Visit QUIT.ie from the HSE to find a list of clinics near you or call 1800 201 203 and we’ll put you in touch with your local clinic. You can arrange a face-to-face appointment or a phone appointment.”

In a one-to-one session, HSE QUIT advisors will assess your nicotine addiction, identify your reasons for quitting, discuss your best options for NRT and create a personal plan to help you quit smoking for good. If you join the HSE stop smoking programme your local advisor will arrange for you to access NRT through your GP or your nearest participating pharmacy. Your advisor will keep in touch with you weekly for the first 6 weeks after you quit and periodically for up to 12 months to help and support you.

Mathew Turner who smoked for 20 years speaks about how the HSE QUIT programme helped him finally quit for good: “Before my son was born my wife heard about our local QUIT advisor, Madeline, in one of her antenatal classes. She asked for Madeline’s contact details and passed on my own contact details through the midwife who was leading the antenatal session. The first call from Madeline, based in Louth, was just a friendly chat and looking for information like how many I smoked a day etc. She then offered some solutions like the patches since they worked for a while before, as well as inhalers. This worked great for about 3 weeks and then on a night out I had two cigarettes. On my next weekly call with Madeline I said I had smoked and she was great, no judgement, just encouragement to keep going.

“I’ve started to use the mist now which I feel is a lot stronger and is more what I need especially for nights out. I am off cigarettes now 17 weeks and I feel I’ve made a lot of progress since I started with Madeline. Madeline’s help was fundamental on my journey to quit smoking. I was not aware of the free NRT offered by the HSE. The amount of support I have received has been amazing and it is all free.’’

Top tips for quitting smoking successfully:

  • Don’t feel you need to go it alone. HSE QUIT is there for you to help you take this step with simple, practical help that is proven to work, maximising your chance of staying quit for good.
  • Focus on the goal to stay smoke-free for 28 days. Once people get to that goal, they are up to 5 times more likely to stay quit for good.  
  • Use stop smoking medicine, like NRT. This is a safe, effective and a clinically sound way of getting through the first 28 days and beyond and will really help you to deal with cravings. 

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