Thursday 18 January 2018

‘My dad inspired 100,000 people to give up smoking’ - daughter of Gerry Collins

Gerry Collins was diagnosed with cancer two years after giving up his 60-a-day smoking habit
Gerry Collins was diagnosed with cancer two years after giving up his 60-a-day smoking habit
Anti-smoking campaigner Gerry Collins
Joyce Fegan

By Joyce Fegan

Anti-smoking campaigner Gerry Collins, who died from lung cancer in March, has inspired 100,000 people to quit smoking.

His daughter has now encouraged more people to quit smoking and urged non-smokers not to start at all.

The father of three (57) was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in 2013, having already overcome throat cancer in 2008.

Last January, he became the face of a HSE anti-smoking campaign.

It was this campaign, which he decided to do so “something good” could come from his diagnosis, that has since encouraged 100,000 people in Ireland to try to quit smoking.


“We now estimate that 100,000 smokers have tried to quit since Gerry’s ads began in January,” said a spokesperson for the HSE.

Yesterday, the health body released previously unseen footage of the final days of Gerry’s life, including time spent with his family and friends.

“The film is a final summation of Gerry’s message for smokers and for everyone,” the HSE spokesperson said.

The former Dublin footballer, who lived in Greystones, had previously taken part in a HSE anti-smoking campaign in 2011, where he gave details of his successful battle against throat cancer.

In his final message he said: “It’s surreal I’m dying from lung cancer and I haven’t smoked in 10 years.”

Yesterday, his daughter Ciara said: “I am so proud of my dad and all the work he did to encourage people to quit smoking and urge any others not to start.

“I invite as many people as possible to watch this short film and realise the importance of quitting smoking asap,” wrote Ciara on Facebook, alongside a link to his final message.

Last April, she accepted an award of Special Recognition from Greystones Town Council on behalf of her father.

At the time she said: “Couldn’t be more proud accepting the award on behalf of our amazing father. Love you Dad”.

He died on March 2, 2014, surrounded by his family.

“Our Dad, Gerry Collins, passed away this morning peacefully in his sleep and a happy man’,” wrote his eldest daughter, Lisa, in a Facebook tribute at the time.

She said his family were lucky enough to be with him when he died and hold his hand.


In the video released yesterday, Gerry clearly states: “I’m going to die soon, from smoking. I’m not dying from anything other than cigarettes.”

His daughters became emotional when talking about the “big things” he will now miss, like their weddings.

However, he stresses the happiness he had in his life, even though he is dying from cancer: “I’m grateful for loads, 
I’ve a great family. I’m grateful for lots, I’m a happy enough man.”

In the film, which was made just before Gerry died, he gives his final message: “Don’t smoke. Don’t start, and for those who have, stop.”


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