Want to finally quit smoking? Get some helpful tips from the experts…

Laura Dowling

Laura, Supervising Pharmacist Manager, Stillorgan

Deciding to quit smoking is the single best thing that you can do for your health. Congratulations! You are on the road to a healthier, happier you. Like any bad habit quitting smoking is not easy. Nicotine is a highly addictive drug and your brain and body crave it. You also associate smoking with daily rituals known as trigger factors, which is why it can be so hard to break the cycle of smoking. The good news is that there are many products, both over the counter (OTC) and on prescription available in your pharmacy that can help you on the road to a smoke free life. Your Pharmacist or Doctor can help to advise you on what products are best suited to you, depending on how you smoke and how many cigarettes that you smoke.  They can also provide you with general advice on how to keep that willpower going!

smoking 2

Deciding to quit is the first step below are a few helpful hints and tips on how to keep going:

  1. List your trigger factors and try to avoid or change those situations for at least the first month of quitting. This will increase your chances of success.

Common trigger factors would be:

  • First thing in the morning
  • With tea/coffee
  • In the car
  • Breaks at work
  • With a social drink
  • After a meal
  1. Be kind to yourself
  • Accept that it is extremely hard to quit and take each day at a time. I often tell my patients to not tell themselves that they will never smoke again but rather to tell themselves that they will not smoke today. This will help you not to panic at the thought of never having another cigarette. It is after all a habit that you enjoy, so the thought of never smoking again can be enough to make you fall off the wagon!
  • Reward yourself when you take a positive step forward, such as being cigarette free for a day, a week, two weeks. But do not punish yourself for slipping up. Just get back on the wagon.
  1. Declare your intentions to family and friends so that they can help to support you. Also clearing ashtrays from your home, washing clothes that smell of cigarettes and cleaning the car can help to remove reminders of smoking from your immediate environment.
  2. Prepare healthy snacks. Oranges are particularly good in this instance as peeling them keeps your hands busy and the strong flavour will help to distract from the cravings.
  3. Distract yourself when you are overcome with a craving by fully immersing yourself in an activity. Even brushing your teeth can be a distraction and leaves your mouth feeling fresh and not smoky!                        smoking 3It can also be helpful to remember that the health benefits to quitting smoking are immediate. They are a reminder to you about how far you have come.Health benefits timeline:

    After 20 mins: Your heart rate returns to normal.

    After 8 hours: Oxygen levels return to normal.

    After 48 hours: Your body is cleared of carbon monoxide. Lungs begin to rid themselves of mucus and other debris. Smell and taste improves.

    2-12 weeks: Circulation and breathing improves. Walking is easier and skin is more radiant.

    >12 weeks: Lung function increases by up to 10%. Coughs, wheezing and breathing problems reduce.

    After 1 year: Risk of heart disease is halved compared to someone who is still smoking.

    After 10 years: Your chance of getting lung cancer is half of that of a current smoker.

    After 15 years: Your risk of a heart attack or stroke is the same as that of someone who has never smoked.


    Good luck and remember that your Pharmacist is always here to help in any way that they can!



This neon pink hummus gives that same cheerful boost a bright new lipstick gives you (sorry guys…I cant think of a male equivalent!).

Chickpeas are a wonderfully cheap and versatile legume. Legumes are rich in protein, fibre and folic acid and are ranked 4th place in the top 10 most most nutrient dense foods.  Hummus is a great snack as its healthy fats keep you satisfied between meals. Meridian Light Tahini (sesame seed butter) is a rich source of lignans, a cancer-fighting phytonutrient and is also delicious on its own spread on some sliced apple.

The vibrant colour of this recipe is provided by beetroot – an athlete’s secret weapon!  If you’re a regular exerciser, especially if you partake in endurance sports (marathons and triathlons), beetroot should absolutely be a regular part of your diet.  Nitrates in beetroot boost energy and performance by helping to oxygenate the blood, whilst anti-inflammatory compounds facilitate post-exercise muscle recovery.

You don’t have to roast the beets before hand – you could lightly steam them or use raw beets if you want.  As a snack I’m serving this hummus on a slice of toasted rye bread (I use Biona 100% Rye bread) with a few slivers of avocado and a sprinkle if Nua Naturals hulled hemp seeds.

(makes about 6 servings)


  • 2 medium-sized beetroot, peeled.
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 Tbsp Meridian Light Tahini*
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Extra olive oil for serving
  • Nua naturals hemp seeds for garnish (optional)*

To roast the beetroot:

Preheat oven to 220 celsius. Individually wrap the beetroot in aluminium foil and place onto the oven rack. Roast for about 50 minutes. Remove and allow to cool fully before preparing the hummus.

Prepare the hummus:

In a food processor pulse the beetroot a few times on its own before adding the chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, and tahini.  Pulse a few more times and then slowly add the olive oil whilst continuing to blend. Season and pulse again one last time until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, drizzle over some olive oil and a sprinkling of hulled hemp seeds. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Calories Fat Protein Carbs Sugar Fibre
143 10g 4.1g 13.6g 3.3g 4g
A source of protein, fiber, folic acid, manganese, potassium and essential fatty acids. 


Website: www.thehealthonist.com

Instagram: @the_healthonist

*Ingredients available in LloydsPharmacy Stores

Quitters’ Update 25th March 2014

Hi again everyone!  Week 4 of Lent is upon us.  I’m no longer chocolate-free but thankfully I am still smoke-free!  We’re going to learn how one of our past bloggers has been getting on since we saw her in February but first, there are a couple of things to get through first…

#nomakeupselfie – did you do it?!  There’s a boy version and even a dog version.  And what a wonderful example of how a social media craze can help a charity raise much-needed funds, with the Irish Cancer Society currently clocking up over €600,000 in donations.

What struck me first about the resulting Facebook posts was how amazing all my friends look with no make-up on.  Seriously – it’s crazy that they bother with any at all.  I’m so lucky to be surrounded by such natural beauties!  What also struck me was how (relatively) young we still seem to look without the slap on.  Again, very lucky.  My own #nomakeupselfie showed how much healthier my skin is since quitting.  All good news and all very motivating.  It got me thinking though about the effects smoking has on your skin and I came upon a rather scary SmartPhone app (Android and Apple links below the image).

It’s called Smoking Time Machine and it’s by the Cumbria NHS in the UK. If this doesn’t convince you to consider quitting, I really don’t know what else will.  Check me out below.  I am NEVER smoking again!!




I am going to print out this picture and put on my bathroom mirror.  Motivation enough I think!

Next up:  Social Smokers!  We need to talk.  You are rearing your heads time and time again as I speak to quitters and ex-smokers, and not in a good way, sorry.
n2Almost every single person I know attempting to quit has had slip-ups, of course.  But almost every single one of them has had a slip-up on a night out with a ‘Social Smoker’ pal.  Social Smoking is dangerous (we’ll get to that in a minute) of course, but you guys have the “luxury” of being able to limit your smoking to selected times and return to the life of a non-smoker very easily on Monday morning.  You must remember however that we  full-time smokers can’t.  When we fall off the wagon, it’s much harder for us to get back on and it can be extremely demotivating after all the hard work of quitting. We’ve heard a lot about support throughout the course of this blog and you guys need to help your quitting pals at the weekends.  And quitters, you need to make sure your social circles are aware of your efforts and therefore support you when temptation presents itself.  Don’t let the fact that ‘everyone was smoking’ be a reason you tarnish all your amazing work.  Take control of those situations instead of letting them control you.

I’m not finished with you yet!  Social Smoking is something that I’ve been wondering about a lot.  Is it okay just to smoke at weekends?  No, it is not.  You are tripling, yes TRIPLING, your risk of heart disease even with as little as one cigarette per day.  Check out the article below for more.


Okay, I feel like I’m lecturing now.  Let’s check in with one of our previous bloggers and see how she’s been getting on…

Lyndsey, Manager LloydsPharmacy Blanchardstown, Aged 27


Quit Date: 15th January

Still Smoke-Free: YES-ish


lyn‘Hey everybody!

So I’m writing this with a little bit of a sad face 😦

After me doing so well off the smokes I cracked and had a smoke….  February is my worst month of the year for personal reasons and I was dreading facing it being off the smokes as this would be where I would’ve smoked the most. 

I had a really bad day and I honestly thought “have a smoke it will make u feel better, it will clear your head”. So I did, but it didn’t do anything of the sort it just made me feel light-headed and gutted that I had given in 😦

But I’m back on track now. I know it didn’t help having a smoke so I’ll remember that when I think it will fix things. However on the positive side of things we have booked our 1st family holiday for August from the savings and now I’ve two very excited kiddies.

So it’s back on with the patches and being back to smoke-free Lyndsey :)’


Thank you Lyndsey and congratulations on the holiday!!

Lyndsey is doing wonderfully to have only slipped up once.  And indeed that slip-up made her realise that she is doing the right thing.  EVERYONE I speak to who has given up smoking is glad they gave up smoking and is healthier and wealthier as a result.  What on earth are you waiting for?

Remember, you are 4 times more likely to quit with one-to-one coaching so visit your local LloydsPharmacy and ask how we can help you get Smoking under Control, or ask your local pharmacy what support they have available.  Further support is available at www.quit.ie

Chat soon,




Quitters’ Update 19th March 2014

hatIt’s the 3rd week of Lent!  And welcome back to our Smoking Control Quitters’ Blog.  And guess what happened by accident?!  I thought it was more than enough for me to have quit smoking and so didn’t give up anything else for Lent.  And I’ve just realised I haven’t actually eaten any chocolate (I’m almost sure anyway) since Ash Wednesday.  So go me!  Well one my way to optimal health and well-being.

Today’s picture is me with a hat.  Sadly, it’s not my hat as I’m pretty fond of it now.

(Okay, where’s she going with this?!)

You may remember that I decided to take up knitting in order to keep my hands busy and my mind distracted in an effort to break some of my evening-time smoking habits.  Well, behold my first ever knitted thing that’s not a scarf!  It’s a present for my boyfriend though I may re-think that as I’m pretty attached…

Knitting really has been a great help.  You have to think about it while you’re doing it and you need both hands. Previous evening-time activities were easily done while smoking; watching TV, surfing the internet, chatting on the phone.  I’m addicted now and am taking orders from friends and family.

My point here is (apart from promoting my new craft business!) that you really do need to think of something else to do.  It sounds obvious but it’s so important.    Break the habits and change your routine so that the activities and times you associate with smoking become associated with something else.

I’m still in the warm a fuzzy self-righteous glow of being a new non-smoker so it may be hard to take advice from me.  So this week, I’ve asked one of my colleagues, a long-time non-smoker, to tell us a little about how she feels about things now…

Noeleen, LloydsPharmacy, The Mill S.C. Clondalkin


Quit Date: 3 years ago

Still Smoke-Free: YES!

20140106_141627Hi guys,

Anyone out there trying to give up the cigarettes, hang in there, believe me it will get better. I was there myself and it will be worth it.  The ‘freedom’, as I called it at the time, was like I was released from something.

The best advice I would give is to do something with the money that you would normally spend on cigarettes, that is if you could afford to smoke in the first place. I got myself a loan and I knew then that the money was spoken for. I got my first car and paid back the loan within a year, I was so proud of that little Micra.

Apart from my car and back to the more serious side, my health was my main reason for giving them up. I got bronchitis every year and I have never had it since I gave them up. All the other little things like tasting my food again, my house smelling good and having loads of energy were a bonus. So if you’re trying to kick the habit at the moment, keep going and set yourself a goal, maybe a nice holiday or a spa weekend when you have reached your 3 or 6 month goal.



Thank you Noeleen!


I love Noeleen’s tactic of getting that loan.  It’s not unusual for a smoker to spend €300 in a month on cigarettes.  That’s the repayment on the loan for a very nice car.  But health is obviously the more important aspect.  Giving up smoking is the single most significant improvement you can make to your health.  And as I hope you can see from our blog, it’s not impossible; it’s not always easy of course but not impossible…

We’ll be back next week with an update from one of our favourite bloggers and amazing pharmacy managers, Lyndsey, to see how she’s been getting on since we heard from her last.

Chat soon,


Quitters’ Update 13th March 2014

namHi again everyone. Naomi, Health Strategy Manager here at LloydsPharmacy, back with you again for the second week of Lent. I’m finally starting to feel really, really healthy.  The recent sunshine has of course helped me with that but it’s also down to being able to catch a breath while exerting myself in any way whatsoever!

Here is me with a bike.  Yes, a bike.  And I realise I’m merely standing beside it in this picture but I promise you I also cycle it nowadays.  Last Sunday, my boyfriend and I cycled from Donnybrook to Sandycove and back.  He’s really, really fit so I was nervous I would be a panting, sweaty mess before I made it up the first hill but I wasn’t; I kept up with him.  What’s more, I actually enjoyed it! Anyone who knows me will tell you that me enjoying physical activity outdoors is quite the shocker.  It’s such a change for me to be feeling healthy and fit and I actually WANT to get out there and be active.  This would not have been how the smoker version of Naomi behaved, I assure you.

People have been constantly asking how I’m getting on throughout the course of this blog.  And I’ve been saying since the beginning how it gets easier every week.  And it truly does.  But I’ll be honest; it’s only these last two weeks that I’m genuinely certain this is it for me.  It was really hard not to revert to normal behaviour.  My skin went through a huge change, with acne and dryness, and I have put on a good bit of weight – I am ALWAYS hungry!  (I think that’s because I can finally taste properly though!)  It seemed at times to be so unfair that something so good for my health was making me feel and look so much worse.  But that just shows you what effect smoking has on your body.  The changes I’ve been going through have made me realise that I was harming myself in so many different ways.  Now, I’m more determined than ever to stay smoke-free and to get fit and healthy and to enjoy this coming summer.

It’s not going to be easy, be under no illusions.  And you’ll feel like it’s not worth the enormous effort.  But I promise you that coming out the other end IS worth it.  I have more energy than ever, I’m sleeping better, and I’m in a much better mood!  Don’t delay…

That’s enough from me.  Let’s check in with one of our past bloggers…

David, Teacher, Aged 33

Quit Date: 13th January

Still Smoke-Free: YES!

Last Despatch!

daveHello again folks,

January is long gone and most of those earnest New Year’s Resolutions are distant memories. The long weekend is on the way and for a lot of people – hopefully me included – a trip to the pub with friends and family is on the cards. Will I be with the crowds heading outside to smoke and chat?

No way! Not all resolutions have been kept, but getting off cigarettes is one that I’m delighted to have stuck with. My reasons for staying off them are still the same. It’s expensive, causes both short-term and long-term illnesses, affects fitness and has been a part of my life for too long. These are all reasons that continue to motivate me.

On top of this I am finding that smokers are rapidly gaining pariah status so it is the norm for people not to smoke. This means there’s less temptation. All of my friends and family have been totally supportive and have given loads of encouragement. This is a huge help and not one that I had considered when I decided to quit. My girlfriend has also quit (and done much better than I have!) and now is disgusted by the smell of them so would know if I had a sneaky smoke.

I haven’t had one since I slipped up in January and smoked a few cigarettes one night whilst having wine with friends. The Nicorette Inhaler is great when out in a pub as you’ve something to keep your hands busy. The taste is a little sour so it’s not something you want to be attacking all evening and pretty soon you forget about wanting a cigarette and stop fiddling with it. The patches are absolutely great for everyday situations.

Being open about it is a good idea as everyone knows that you’re supposed to be off them. They’ll be very quick to tell you off if you appear with a cigarette. I’m loving quitting smoking and can’t see myself ever taking up the habit again.

Thanks everyone!


Thanks David! Great to hear you’re still doing so well.  Congratulations 🙂

David referred to support in his update and that’s something that’s come up time and time again while we’ve been working on this blog.  Your friends and family HAVE to be behind you in your efforts to quit.  There’s no point codding yourself into thinking that living with a smoker will make this any easier, or keeping ashtrays around or going out with a gang of smoker friends.  You can’t do this on your own.  And remember, you are 4 times more likely to be successful with 1-2-1 coaching and support. Visit http://www.lloydspharmacy.ie/content/Smoking-Control/1453 or www.quit.ie for more information and advice.

We’ll be back next week with hopefully more good news about how amazing it is to be a non-smoker!

Chat soon,


Quitters’ Update: Ash Wednesday

naomiHi again everyone and Happy National No Smoking Day. It’s been almost a month since you heard from me and my fellow quitters. I promised we’d make an appearance again as Lent kicks off so here we are… well, here I am anyway! We’ll be hearing how our other bloggers have been doing over the coming weeks.

Ash Wednesday as traditionally been a day when smokers decide to attempt to quit and we can certainly see that in our pharmacies today. Do you know, I think giving up chocolate would be much more difficult than quitting – and that’s from someone who’s been smoke-free since January 13th! Yes, I’m still a non-smoker, and am now finished using my Nicorette Inhaler also, though I still carry it with me when socialising. And I feel great!

It has not been easy, I’ll be completely honest. I have put on weight due to eating more, and it did take quite a while for my skin to return to normal. There were times when I really wondered whether it was worth it. But today, writing to you before going out for a run, I can tell you it IS worth it. There is no way the old Naomi would have managed a run in the evening without collapsing! And my car and clothes and skin all look and smell so clean!

This is all so much more poignant a topic given the sad passing of Gerry Collins this week, the face of the HSE’s Quit Campaign last December. At the launch of the campaign in December last year, Gerry said the ads were an opportunity to show the dangers of smoking and that he took solace from the fact he would be able to say goodbye to his family unlike those who die suddenly. “I hope to continue in the fight against smoking,” he said in December. For me, it’s a nice legacy to leave behind. “People who are killed in a car crash never get to say goodbye. I’ve an opportunity to say goodbye. As sad and all as it is for the family, they’re very lucky. “If I can get through the day with a bit of peace and contentment every day, that’s good enough for me. If I can spend time with the kids, I’m happy with that.”

Gerry’s words make me happier and prouder still that I’ve managed to stay smoke-free for this long and more determined than ever to see it through.

If you have been thinking of quitting or know someone in your family who wants to, please please speak to your GP, your pharmacist or health care assistant about how to start. You are TWICE as likely to be successful in quitting with 1-2-1 coaching and support so services like our Smoking Control service can really help you. Visit http://www.lloydspharmacy.ie/content/Smoking-Control/1453 or www.quit.ie for more information and advice on breaking the habit. Quitting smoking is the single most significant improvement you can make for your health. Why wait?!

Chat soon,

Prostate cancer, why do so many men put off getting checked out?


It may be that they are too embarrassed to go to their Doctor or that they are not sure what symptoms to look out for? Blue September sponsored by VHI Healthcare aims to tackle this with a nationwide awareness highlighting male specific cancers.

Prostate Cancer is more prevalent than Testicular Cancer and accounts for 94% of male cancers,while Testicular Cancer accounts for 6% of male cancers.Prostate Cancer is the second most common Cancer found in men in Ireland. It is the most common in men over the age of 50. However, most cases occur in men over the age of 65. 1 in 12 Irishmen will be diagnosed with Prostate Cancer during their lifetime.

 What are the symptoms of Prostate Cancer?

Men with early Prostate Cancer are unlikely to have any symptoms at all. Prostate Cancers usually only cause symptoms when they are large enough to disturb your bladder or press on the tube that drains urine.

The Symptoms of Prostate Cancer include:

  • Passing urine more often, especially at night.
  • Pain or difficulty when passing urine.
  •  Trouble starting or stopping the flow of urine.
  •  The feeling of not having emptied your bladder.
  •  Frequent pain in your lower back, hips or upper thighs.
  •  Trouble having or keeping an erection.
  •  Blood in your urine or sperm (very rare)

 Risk Factors:

Although the causes of Prostate Cancer are not known, there are certain risk factors including age, family history and diet which seems to increase the risk of developing the disease. The majority of men diagnosed with Prostate Cancer are aged over 50 years and the risk increases as they get older.

Men whose brother or father developed Prostate Cancer at a young age have an increased risk while there is some evidence to suggest that men who eat a lot of red meat or a lot of high-fat dairy products and have a low green vegetable consumption have a slightly higher chance of developing Prostate Cancer.

 A diet high in Calcium may increase risk.

The recommended daily intake of Calcium is 3 portions of low fat dairy products per day. Eating foods that contain Lycopene and Selenium may protect you against Prostate Cancer. Lycopene is found in tomatoes, tomato products, red grapefruits, watermelons and apricots. Selenium is found in tuna, cod, beef, oatmeal and whole wheat bread.

How is Prostate Cancer diagnosed?

Anyone who is concerned about possible symptoms should firstly visit their GP who can carry out a rectal examination and take blood tests. The blood test measures PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen). PSA is a protein made by the Prostate Gland that can be found in the bloodstream. The GP can then refer you onto a Urologist for further tests if necessary,

Sometimes a raised PSA level can be a sign of Prostate Cancer but more often it is caused by something less serious like an inflamed Prostate or an enlarged Prostate that comes with ageing.

Hospital tests include a transrectal ultrasound scan (TRUS) and a transrectal needle biopsy of the Prostate which is the best way to diagnose Prostate Cancer. If discovered early Prostate Cancer can be treated successfully.


The treatment of Prostate Cancer can vary depending on the stage, grade and size of the tumour. the PSA level, your age, general health, lifestyle and likely side effects of treatment.

Some of the main ways to treat Prostate Cancer include:

  • Active Surveillance\ watchful waiting.
  • Surgery: Removal of part or all of the prostate gland
  • Radiotherapy: the use of radiation treatment to destroy cancer cells
  • Hormone Therapy: The use of drugs or surgery to interfere with the production of particular hormones in the body.

Regular check ups including PSA tests and physical examinations may be needed for some men in the early stages of Prostate Cancer before a specific treatment is recommended.

Diet and Lifestyle:

 Research suggests that Pomegranate juice may help slow down the progress of Prostate Cancer. There is also research that suggests that sunlight can help reduce the risk of Prostate Cancer through the production of Vitamin D

Written by Joanne