Sending the right signals about quitting smoking
For many smokers, the thought of giving up cigarettes fills them with dread.
But a successful free service for residents in Haringey might just help some kick the habit for good.
"I never thought I would stop smoking. Everyone at work couldn't believe it as I was always smoking, I always had a fag in my mouth," said Tony Redway, 40 of Northumberland Park, Tottenham, who smoked 40 cigarettes a day for 25 years.
But Mr Redway stopped smoking more than a year ago now and hasn't looked back since. He believes it would not have been possible if he hadn't sought help from the Enfield and Haringey Quit Smoking Service (EHQSS) in February 2005.
The service, which is jointly provided by Enfield Primary Care Trust (PCT) and Haringey Teaching Primary Care Trust (TPCT), has recently hit its challenging three-year target of 4,400 quitters.
The target which was exceeded by 50 is based on the success rate of smokers who quit and managed to keep it up for four weeks, during the three-year scheme which ran from April 1, 2003, and ended on March 31 this year.
Stephen Deitch, head of medicines, management and unscheduled care at Haringey TPCT, successfully quit smoking almost two years ago after embarking on one of the services on offer.
"A four-week quitter is a very good predictor for those who will quit for a longer period of time," he said. "Many people find it easier once the first four weeks is over."
The EHQSS uses effective interventions at three levels depending on how heavily the person smokes that are proven to help people quit.
Level three is a smokers' clinic which is a seven-week intensive programme focusing on groups of heavy smokers, level two is generally one-to-one help from GPs and pharmacists for those who smoke regularly, and level one describes health workers and counter staff who are not trained to be advisors but are equipped with the skills to engage in conversation with smokers and tell them about the help that is on offer.
The best results, however came from the smokers' clinic, which has a success rate in excess of 78 per cent.
Hosted at the North Middlesex Hospital (NMH) in Edmonton, in addition to two satellite clinics the Crouch End Health Centre, in Middle Lane, Crouch End, and St Michael's Centre, in Chase Side, Enfield the seven-week treatment programme is free of charge and offers support with the use of free Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), in the form of patches, gum and lozenges.
Mr Redway believes that being part of a group is what enabled him to successfully quit.
He said: "If it wasn't for the actual meetings at NMH, I wouldn't have done it on my own. Everyone in the group was all going through the same thing.
"Every week going back, it made all the difference."
For smokers who are unable to attend the clinic, there is a network of community advisors, who provide advice and support on a one-to-one basis, as well as a specialist smoking and pregnancy advisor who is available to offer intensive individual support to pregnant smokers wishing to quit.
One of the level two measures which has shown a significant success rate 50 per cent in some areas is the pharmacist service, which enables smokers to visit one of 74 specially trained pharmacists throughout the two boroughs, who will give them advice and provide them with the relevant medication they need to give up smoking.
"They made all the difference," said Mr Deitch.
"Having support from a healthcare professional or group doubles your chances of quitting rather than having nicotine therapy alone."
In February this year, Mr Redway celebrated his first year as a non-smoker, and returned to the clinic to pick up a certificate marking his achievement, and he said he is still reaping the benefits of quitting.
"On Monday I got caught in the rain, and when I was a smoker I used to just walk and get soaked, but I ran 200 metres to a bus shelter, I wouldn't have even attempted it before," he laughed.
If you want free help and advice to quit smoking, ring Enfield & Haringey Quit Smoking Service on 0800 085 6258 or visit the web site www.quitsmoking.uk.com for information and support.