HealthDoctor Karen

Gerry lives on in lives he saved

Doctor KarenBy Dr. Karen Palmer
Gerry Collins
Gerry Collins

The HSE today offered its support, sympathy and gratitude to the family of Gerry Collins, who features in the QUIT campaign, and who died from tobacco-related lung cancer one year ago today.

Dr. Stephanie O’Keeffe, National Director of Health & Wellbeing, said this morning:

"Gerry and his family made a courageous and unique contribution to the health and wellbeing of our society by allowing Irish people to share their most difficult days during 2013 and 2014.

 By working with us on the QUIT campaign to create hard-hitting and powerful anti-smoking ads, they have created a legacy of which Gerry was and would continue to be very proud.

I would like to express my sincere thanks to his family and friends on Gerry’s anniversary for the enormous contribution they have made to reducing tobacco use in Ireland."

Smoking rates have reduced by 70,000 since Gerry’s QUIT campaign ads were first shown.

Dave Molloy, HSE National Tobacco Lead, :

‘The response to Gerry’s bravery in sharing his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer as a result of smoking has been extraordinary.

Based on uptake of services, we estimate that over 200,000 quit attempts were made in Ireland since the ads commenced.  We also know that the number of smokers reduced in 2014 by 70,000 smokers – the largest decrease seen since 2009. 

We know that Gerry has saved lives and helped many people avoid the pain, illness and loss that are caused by smoking.’

When Gerry launched his first ad at our head office 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.’ He ended the QUIT campaign ads with a simple appeal to smokers -‘Don’t smoke, don’t start, and if you have, stop."

Dave Molloy concluded:

"This week, we will mark Gerry’s anniversary by sharing a short film made last year about his experience, on our website and on our Facebook page, You can QUIT, and we will also be placing thank you messages in some national papers. 

We would like to invite anyone who was touched by Gerry’s message, or who quit smoking because of his story, to comment and share their thanks online with Gerry’s incredibly generous and brave family."