Today is national No Smoking Day; I was around for the first one all those years ago when it was treated as a mildly amusing joke.

The tobacco culture had a real grip on society, and being a non-smoker was quite an oddball thing -unless you were of the sporting variety. Health for health’s sake hadn’t taken off just yet, while the only nods to general fitness were “The Green Goddess” and “Mad Lizzie” on Breakfast TV – just for the girls, you understand.

There was no information about men’s health at all. 70% of men smoked, as well as “keeping fit” with football and rugby which was often followed by several pints and a pack of fags in the evening. Sporting events were routinely sponsored by tobacco giants. Meanwhile, women were targeted with chic cigarettes which were often slim and liquorice paper wrapped, giving a look of elegance when held in a certain way. This aesthetic was advertised everywhere from magazines, billboards and newspapers to TV and cinema advertising. Women’s sport still hadn’t caught on with the advertisers.

I was working in despatch at a very large factory employing vastly more women than men, mostly in repetitive routine manual work. It was the stuff that 1970s robots couldn’t do. Most of these women smoked and their lives revolved around the break bell, and of course the cigarette that accompanied the tea. Men would be under the same influence of time but their machines kept the clock ticking. You would be relieved to have a break as the machines kept going. It was repetitive, manual and controlled. It wasn’t a break – it was a fag break seen as part of the working day.

Thankfully, those days have gone and more often than not, we now tend to look to a healthier option. Smoking prevalence has plummeted since those far off tobacco filtered days. However, when we look at the data we find that routine manual workers still have the highest proportion of smokers today. Women have by and large quit or taken up the habit less quickly than men, but in the under 30s it is still stubbornly higher than average. Women in lower income employment and the unwaged are the higher proportion of that group.

We still have a long way to go and today it couldn’t be easier. Getting help to quit is only a matter of asking. The internet will give you all of the stop smoking services in your area. Stop4Life operates in workplaces, colleges and community venues, ensuring that the help you need is readily available in your busy lifestyle. Nicotine replacement therapy and all of the support you need comes from our advisors. With a solid support system, you are four times more likely to quit than going it alone. Our own Puffell.com will guide you and help with tracking your success. It is just a matter of taking the first step.

We have come a long way from the 70s and 80s; your smoking habit could well be history if you take one step more.

–        Les

For more information contact Les Jackson via les@icecreates.com or 0151 647 4700