Farmers offered support to give up smoking

A joint health campaign, focusing on farmers and rural workers, is urging smokers to quit as half of all smokers will die earlier than they should.

The call is the latest in the “Protect the Asset That is You Campaign” from the Northern Trust’s Farm Family Health Checks Programme in partnership with Rural Support. The campaign involves several weeks of health messages targeted at farmers and rural workers.

Christina Faulkner, Farm Families Health Checks Co-ordinator said: “The Protect the Asset That Is You Campaign is about raising awareness of how important it is for farmers to look after themselves as they are the greatest asset any farm has.

“ If you smoke you generally have an increased risk of contracting respiratory infection and of more severe symptoms once infected.

Smoking also makes it more likely that you will develop mental health problems, it causes a third of all cancer deaths, a quarter of all heart disease deaths and makes existing problems, such as chronic illness, worse.

“It’s really important therefore that farmers realise it could be one of the biggest risks to their farm.” 

Lynsey McVitty from the Northern Trust Stop Smoking Service says it can be helpful to think of three things; habit, cravings and stress.

Habit - You may have been smoking for a couple of decades and are used to smoking at certain times of the day or in certain situations like first thing in the morning or after meals. It can take time and effort to break habits but it is doable. Think of times when you always have a cigarette. What could you do differently to make it easier for yourself? 

• Change your routine,

• Keep your hands busy, 

• Chew sugar free gum, 

• Sip water, 

• Go for a walk, 

• Remind yourself of your reasons for quitting, 

• Remove cigarettes, ashtrays, tobacco etc. from your house and vehicles. 

Cravings - When you are stopping smoking you are withdrawing from nicotine. It takes time to clear the drug from the body and break the habit. You may get irritated and find it difficult to concentrate but these symptoms only last a few weeks. Some things that can help are the 4 D’s:

• Delay - Urges will pass in a few minutes

• Deep breathe - Take three deep breaths

• Drink water - sip it slowly

• Distract yourself - walk, weed, doodle, dance, talk, whatever works for you.

Also stay positive, tell yourself you can do it and reward yourself. Stop smoking medication used as directed can help you through this stage for example Nicotine Replacement Therapy.

Stress – Lynsey explained: “Lots of people believe smoking helps relieve stress but this is a myth. When you are in nicotine withdrawal you feel irritable and edgy. When you smoke this boosts your nicotine level and relieves the withdrawal. Instead of smoking when you’re stressed try getting away from the situation, taking some deep breaths, talking to someone and remind yourself that smoking will not solve your problems it will only add to them.”

Quit kits are also available from and include practical tools to make stopping smoking easier. Just go online and fill in your details and a free quit kit will be sent to your house.

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