Having participated in a new smoking cessation programme run by the Cayman Islands Health Services Authoritys (HSA) Public Health Department, fifty percent of those participants who completed the course managed to kick the habit, an impressive statistic which has spurred organisers on to preparing a second similar programme for February 2015.Called I Can Quit, the first programme was launched on 4th June, just after the annual World Tobacco Day Designed to empower smokers to break the habit through a combined effort that included a variety of support services, I Can Quit ran for seven weeks and began with 13 participants, who were both HSA staff and members of the general public. Out of the 13, eight completed the course and four successfully quit smoking and three others have reduced significantly the quantity of cigarettes used per day.Ms Lizzette Yearwood, Chief Executive Officer of the HSA, said the results were extremely encouraging.Smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease around the world, killing six million people every year. The most current report from Americas Surgeon Generals recommends providing access to cessation treatments, and expanding these services for all smokers, so our focus has been to assist smokers using a comprehensive programme that targets the multiple factors associated with why a person continues to smoke, she said. We are absolutely delighted that for those participants who have managed to conquer their addiction may now go on to leading a far healthier life.The Cayman Islands has its own worrying statistics on the smoking habits of residents. The 2012 Cayman Islands Government Chronic Disease Risk Factor Survey, known as the Healthy Nation survey, found that 15% of the populations 25-64 year olds smoked tobacco, with men twice as likely as women to do so. Among those who smoked 67% did so daily. For both men and women, smokers started smoking tobacco at an average age of 20 and those aged 25-34 years started smoking at approximately 18 years of age. Daily smokers have an average of 11 cigarettes per day.The I Can Quit programme was therefore a timely intervention and plays an integral part of the HSAs overall chronic disease management programme she addedMs. Therese Prehay, Health Promotion Officer of the Public Health Department and a Certified Tobacco Treatment Specialist, coordinated the I Can Quit programme and explained the objectives of the course.Smokers learned about the triggers and how to conquer them, as well as how to cope with withdrawal symptoms, Ms. Prehay said. We offered participants medication to help them quit their addiction and remain smoke free along with group support.At each weekly session, participants had their weight, blood pressure and carbon monoxide levels in the lungs and blood measured.I would like to give a special mention to three participants whose combined initial nicotine levels averaged 25.7 and declined as little as 6.7 per person at the end of programme. This effort represents a 285% improvement from the initial baseline and is particularly impressive, Ms Prehay said. All participants who completed the programme were extremely satisfied with the many different aspects of the curriculum.  The positive feedback impacted the programme tremendously, so we very much look forward to presenting the next programme early next year.People interested in quitting smoking should contact the Public Health Department on tel. 244-2889/244-2648, or email sarah.hetley@hsa.ky to register by January 14th 2015 for the next programme which begins on February 4 2015. Photo Caption: Therese Prehay, Health Promotion Officer of the Public Health Department and participant, Dorothy Welcome, Practical Nurse, Medical Ward, HSA.