Leading the anti-smoking campaign

 

Dr Michael Boland began smoking when he was 16. Of the six people in his family at the time, all except his mother smoked cigarettes. "There were cigarettes all around the home, and it seemed quite a natural thing to do," he says.

By the time he went to medical school he was an established smoker, quickly rising to 35 cigarettes a day. He made several attempts to stop, all without success. "I usually failed because of overconfidence, a feeling that I could take one and leave them again. Unfortunately it became 'take one and take one'."

Eventually, four years into medical practice, he had a bad bout of bronchitis; when added to the daily evidence of how bad cigarettes were for his patients and a feeling that he would have to stop smoking if he was to have any credibility in advising other people to quit, he became determined to give up. "I still remember the pain of not being able to buy the cigarettes I wanted. I have a great deal of sympathy for smokers, who need all the help they can get when trying to give up."

Micheál Martin, the Minister for Health and Children has never smoked. He came from a household where his father, Paddy, who was an international boxer, emphasised physical well-being and health.

"Dad's sporting background and the sense of how important your health and well-being were made its mark and left us in no doubt that smoking would not have been appreciated in our house," he says. "But I do feel for people, and I appreciate how hard it can be to quit."