Jana Ranjan works for One You Merton, which supports people to eat well, move more, stop smoking and drink less. Smokers are up to four times more likely to succeed with stop smoking services than if they try to quit without help. With the expert support of dedicated professionals like Jana, Merton residents have the best chance of quitting the habit. Jana is calling on smokers to get free help to quit and improve their lifelong health.
How do you help the smokers through their difficult moments?
Quitting smoking is rarely straightforward. It often involves setbacks and challenges. We give that ongoing support and motivation to individuals, reminding them about their ambition and helping them when it gets impossible. We celebrate each victory on the programme to make them more determined. Some people are not aware of all the health benefits and how giving up smoking can extend their life expectancy by 10 years, so I share all these reasons to quit when it feels challenging.
Can you tell me about the difference you made to a smoker who you helped to give up?
I can always remember a man who was referred to me by his GP as he had diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and lung disease. Living with all these conditions he had depression, anxiety and problems with family relationships. He told me he could not stop smoking as it gave him the happiness and calmness he needed to cope. I started by explaining the risks of smoking with his conditions and gave him small goals like cutting the number of cigarettes by two a week and to eat fruit or take exercise when he felt cravings. He gradually gave up over three months and regained his strength, reduced his medication, improved his breathing, and had happier family relationships.
As well as advice, what other support is available?
We can help make it easier and more affordable to get the nicotine replacement therapy such as patches or gum to ease withdrawal symptoms. We help smokers understand the addiction, identify triggers and develop individual tactics to overcome cravings and withdrawal symptoms, helping them quit smoking for good. Vaping is substantially less harmful than tobacco smoking, recent evidence shows up to 95% less harmful, and so is a good tool to support adults to quit smoking., However, this does not mean vaping is risk-free, particularly for people who have never smoked.
Does the service cover vaping too?
We are working with children and young people, as well as schools to raise awareness of the harmful risks associated with vaping for children and young people. Vaping is illegal for under 18s and can have harmful effects. These can include brain fog, addiction, lack of confidence and self-esteem, increased irritability and mood changes. In 2023, 20.5% of children had tried vaping, up from 15.8% in 2022 and 13.9% in 2020 before the first Covid lockdown. They are attractively packaged and flavoured to make them appealing and to appear harmless.
How did you become an advisor?
I was working as health advisor for few years. I became interested in the stop smoking service after seeing such a dramatic change in people who gave up smoking. I took up the training and am passionate about the job and have now helped thousands of people quit and become healthier.
What is the best thing about the job?
I’m really proud when the people I support beat the habit and are so surprised they have managed to do it. People who get help are four times more likely to succeed than somebody trying to do it on their own. The reasons people smoke are complex, with many believing it can help with stress or can make them calmer, when there are much less harmful ways to do this. Plus, when one person smokes, they only inhale around 15% of the smoke and the rest is distributed in the surrounding environment so I’m helping them reduce the health risks for the whole community. I’m also helping reduce pressures on the NHS with less GP visits or hospital admissions as each person gets healthier.
Help if you want to stop smoking
In Merton, residents have a choice of three services to help them stop smoking: