'Don't smoke, don't start, and for those who have, stop.' - Gerry Collins.
In 2011, Gerry Collins was one of three people featured in the QUIT campaign's films and TV adverts, telling his story of recovery from tobacco-related throat cancer. In summer 2013, Gerry contacted the HSE to let us know that, sadly, he had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Gerry also asked us if this new chapter in his story could form a new phase of the QUIT campaign.
Gerry and his family allowed us a window into their family life, and into how they coped with and reacted to Gerry's diagnosis. By working with us to create hard-hitting films and TV commercials; discussing his smoking, his illness, his expected death and the anticipated loss to his family; Gerry hoped to inspire other people to quit smoking and help them to avoid the pain of illness and premature separation from their loved ones.
The response to Gerry's first ad in January 2014 was simply phenomonal and Gerry has inspired in excess of 60,000 quit attempts in Ireland since the beginning of the year. This week, from Ash Wednesday on March 5th, two new adverts featuring Gerry and his family will be aired. In the new adverts, he shares more of his story and his thoughts about smoking and his terminal illness, and his gratitude for his family and friends. He ends these ads with a simple appeal to smokers -'Don't smoke, don't start, and if you have, stop.'
View Gerry's 1st Ad - I wish I was an actor
View Gerry's 2nd Ad - Family
View Gerry's Final Ad - Gratitude
Gerry was extremely proud of these new ads, and was looking forward to their being aired. It is tragic that he did not live to see them broadcast, or to experience the further admiration, support and gratitude that the ads would have delivered to him, and that he so warmly deserves. Gerry's QUIT campaign adverts were created on the shared understanding with Gerry and his family that they would continue to be used after Gerry had died, and the Collins family have decided that these adverts should be aired as planned this week, in accordance with Gerry's wishes.
When Gerry launched his first ad in January 2014, he said; 'There were three reasons I decided I wanted to do this - firstly it was for myself; a positive thing for me to invest my energy in while dealing with my cancer. Secondly, I thought it would be good for my family, creating something powerful and meaningful for my kids to look back on. And finally, if even one person stops smoking because of what we've done, then it will all be worth it for me.'
Using the numbers of people signing up to online QUITplans since the first ad aired in January as a marker, we estimate that over 60,000 people in Ireland have made quit attempts this year, thanks to Gerry.
You can QUIT
Quitting smoking is the best thing that you can do for your health, and if you use one the range of support services available, you can as much as double your chances of your quit attempt succeeding. Also, if you’ve tried before and it didn’t work, remember most smokers make several attempts before quitting for good. The trick is to keep on trying, because the change you can bring about in your health and your life is worth it.
The HSE's QUITline Service now has a new Freephone number 1800 201 203. This means that smokers in need of help and support to quit can call free of charge on 1800 201 203. The QUITline is provided on the HSE's behalf by the Irish Cancer Society and gives professional counselling support to smokers on their quit journey. The previous LoCall number for the Quitline will continue to operate as usual until the end of June.
If you smoke, remember you can QUIT and we can help:
Visit www.quit.ie and sign up for an online QUIT plan
Call the QUITline 1800 201 203
Join our Facebook support group www.facebook.com/HSEquit
Contact your local HSE smoking cessation service via QUIT.ie
Talk to your GP or pharmacist for help, and also supports and medications
QUIT is a health education campaign from the HSE that aims to reduce the numbers of smokers in Ireland. We want to help more and more smokers to quit, so our job is to show people why, and how they can do it. Scroll down to find out how we can help you quit or read more about the campaign, or visit www.quit.ie to get started on the road to quitting for good.