A “battle bus” will be arriving on the Island this weekend as a part of a drive to support Islanders who want to stop smoking.
It will be arriving in Fishbourne – the only route capable of transporting a bus of this size - at 09.15am on Sunday, 2 March then moving on to St James’ Square, Newport. It will move on to the Isle of Wight College, Newport on 4 March before returning to the mainland via Fishbourne.
Throughout its visit, the bus will be staffed by representatives from the IW Council and IW NHS Primary Care Trust who are backing. These include Cllr Dawn Cousins, IW Council Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Director of Public Health Dr Jenifer Smith and Carol Foley who heads up the NHS Primary Care Trust’s Island Quitters programme.
The battle bus is the centrepiece of a 40-day Government backed campaign called Quit for Life run by NHS South Central – the largest campaign of its type ever to place in Britain. The aim of the £1million campaign is to encourage at least 3,500 people in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight to stop smoking for good.
Smokers will be able to access a range of facilities aboard the bus including carbon monoxide monitoring and a special computer programme which provides smokers with a picture to take away and keep showing them how they will look in ten years time if they continue to smoke.
Advisors will be on hand to offer advice, encouragement and support to would-be quitters, free fruit will be handed out along with pens bearing the number of a 24 hour, permanently staffed hotline number.
Dr Smith said: “The PCT is delighted to be working in partnership with the IW Council to tackle one of the biggest threats to the health of Island people.
“Quitting is very tough indeed for many people and I want to send my congratulations to the thousands of Islanders who have successfully stopped smoking since we be gan running special stop smoking clinics and services in 2003.
“This latest campaign is a very welcome addition to the very vigorous and successful work being carried out in this area by health professionals, including health promotion specialists, GPs and pharmacists, and our partners in the local authority and charitable and voluntary sector.”
Carol Foley said that nearly 1,000 Islanders who contacted the Island Quitters service in 2006/07 had successfully quit and so far in 2008 a further 553 have been helped to stop. Since the Stop Smoking Service was established in 2003 the Island NHS has helped 4, 278 people to quit smoking.
“We run special clinics and quitters’ groups around the island where people wanting to quit can get a 12 week course of nicotine replacement therapy for the price of a single prescription,” she said.
“At Island Quitters we concentrate on providing smokers with encouragement, support and the motivation to stop, the most powerful one of which smokers themselves say is the health benefit.
“Those who do stop very quickly see significant benefits including feeling and looking better, having more energy, a rejuvenated sense of taste and smell and a healthier bank balance.
“Some even go on to put something back into the service and I currently have some members of my community team who are ex-smokers. There are also a few specially trained prison officers who help raise the profile of the service and provide direct support to prisoners.
Cllr Cousins said: ”It can be extremely hard for people to give up smoking: they can need all the encouragement they can get. Hopefully this initiative will provide the inspiration or information to help them make that choice.
“It will also demonstrate that the IW NHS Primary Care Trust and the IW Council are two organisations committed to offering all the support can.”
Anyone wanting any help or in formation about quitting can call Island Quitters on 01983 814280 or 07919 598549 or the new 24 hour service for the South Central region on 0800 328 0276. People can also visit www.quitforlife.uk.com or text “Quit” to 80010. Smokers are four times more likely to quit for good through using NHS stop smoking support services including the South Central NHS 24/7 helpline.
For further information: Contact Gavin Foster in the Island Council communications team on 01983 821000 or the Isle of Wight NHS Primary Care Trust communications department on 01983 552003 or 534184.
Note to editors: The following are some facts and figures you may find useful as background information:
- There are 10 million smokers in England
- Only 3% of smokers will quit without receiving any help
- Several hundred people die every year from lung cancer as a result of passive smoking.
- One year after stopping smoking, the risk of a heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker and within five years falls to a similar level to that of a non-smoker.
- Within 10 years of quitting smoking, an ex smoker’s risk of developing lung cancer is only slightly greater than that of a non-smoker.
Picture opportunities: You are very welcome to send reporters and photographers to see the battle bus and its team at any time and location during the visit of the battle bu s. However, particular opportunities you may wish to consider are:
- 09.15hrs Sunday, 2 March 2008: battle bus arrives aboard Wightlink Ferry at Fishbourne
- 13.00hrs - 14.00hrs, Monday, 3 March 2008: St James Square, Newport – Dr Jenifer Smith, Carol Foley and Councillor Dawn Cousins visit the battle bus
- Battle bus boards Fishbourne to Portsmouth ferry service: departure at 17.30hrs on Tuesday, 4 March 2008