Our second charity theme of 2019 is Heart Health, and we have been trying to raise awareness of the importance of keeping your heart healthy. Physical activity is not only great for you, but also improves your heart health. Earlier in the year, in order to increase awareness of the importance of keeping your heart healthy, we held an open day with Nuffield Health. Staff went along for a mini health MOT, checking their blood pressure and BMI, and took part in various fitness challenges.
However, if you're a smoker, quitting is the single most important step you can take to protect the health of your heart. If you smoke, you are four times more likely to die of heart disease and three times more likely to die from sudden cardiac death. So it felt fitting, that as part of our Heart Health theme we would relaunch our Stop Smoking campaign with a new group of six long term smokers!
With the support of Help Me Quit – an NHS programme – the group will take part in seven weekly ‘therapy’ sessions, with the hope that by the end of the programme they will all have kicked the habit for good! These sessions use cognitive behavioural therapy to try and get to the root of why people smoke. Throughout the programme the group will have access to a range of quit smoking aids, including nicotine replacement, which will curb their cravings.
We understand how daunting the prospect of giving up smoking can be, and we wanted to find out how the group felt about the challenge ahead of them. We caught up with two of the group members so we could find out their reasons for giving up, and to see how they were finding their quit journey so far.
Katie Watkins is a sales executive for We Plan Group, and has found quitting easier than expected:
“I started smoking at the age of 16 but not very heavily, however since turning 21 I have smoked between 15 and 20 a day. I am now 35 so have been smoking for 19 years which is quite scary!
I have been saying for a number of years I was going to give up but never put it into practice. My main reason for giving up has been due to two personal losses within a short space of time, and also my health as well as the rising cost of smoking.
The first session I attended was brilliant and not what I expected at all. It was nice to sit with others who were on the same page as me, and as Anne is an ex-smoker herself this made us all feel more at ease.
I did go in thinking I had to give up there and then, but that wasn’t the case. However, with Anne’s help I decided I was going to start the next day anyway. The journey so far has been a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. I have been smoke free now for 13 days only using patches in the day and the inhaler as and when I need to”.
Mary Perkins who works on the incomplete claims department within We Fight Any Claim has said that the support she is receiving from the group has made trying to quit easier:
“I started smoking when I was about 15 and I’m now 63! I did give up once before for about 3 years but sadly started again, which was the worst decision I have ever made!
My reason for giving up is that the amount of money I waste on cigarettes is ridiculous, and of course there are the health reasons.
I did enjoy the first session and I can’t believe how easy I am finding it. I found it harder last time I gave up but I was doing it on my own. This time I’m in a group and there is support if needed.”
We think it takes great courage to even attempt to give up after so many years. However, given that smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack compared with people who have never smoked, we think it’s worth the pain!
Whilst we know it won’t be easy for them, we wish the group good luck on their quit journey, and we will check back in with them at the end of the programme to see if they have managed to stub out their habit for good!
If you want more information on how you can keep your heart healthy, or would like to register your interest for the next Stop Smoking Campaign, then speak to our Employee Engagement Officer, Danielle.