Saturday 7 December 2019

'We've gone past tipping point for smoking'

Face of the campaign: The late Gerry Collins at Dr Steeven’s Hospital, Co Dublin, for the launch of the HSE advert against smoking last December. Stephen Collins/Collins Photos.
Face of the campaign: The late Gerry Collins at Dr Steeven’s Hospital, Co Dublin, for the launch of the HSE advert against smoking last December. Stephen Collins/Collins Photos.

The face of the anti-smoking campaign in Ireland is Wicklow man Gerry Collins, who still features in hard-hitting television, radio and online adverts warning about the dangers of nicotine addiction, despite dying from lung cancer in March of this year.

The 57-year-old from Greystones had previously overcame throat cancer in 2008.

In the HSE's Quit campaign he spoke of the devastation caused to himself and his family by tobacco: "I wish I had stopped smoking earlier, I really do. My life would have been totally different," he said.

Gerry was a keen footballer, with Kilmacud Crokes and the Dublin senior team.

Before he died, he told his family that he wanted his story to continue to be used in the anti-smoking campaign.

The anti-smoking charities say up to 60,000 Irish people tried to quit the habit over the past 12 months. And the latest figures show a significant drop in the percentage of the Irish population which smokes - down from 29pc to 22pc in the past 10 years.

Anti-smoking campaigners say the habit has also tipped over into the point where it is now seen as socially unacceptable.

"I think we have passed the tipping point," says Professor John Crown.

"These days, you wouldn't go for dinner in somebody's home and just light up a cigarette there at the table. It's just socially unacceptable pretty much everywhere," the campaigner adds.

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