Death of anti-smoking campaigner

By staff reporter

Dublin father of three Gerry Collins, who appeared in hard-hitting anti-smoking ads in Ireland, has died after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer last year.

The 57-year-old businessman, who spoke frankly about his disease in the adverts, died in his sleep surrounded by his family on Sunday morning.

Gerry, who had also coached at Kilmacud Crokes GAA club, had originally appeared in an ad in 2011 to call on people to give up cigarettes, talking in the video about how he had survived throat cancer after smoking up to 60 a day.

But just two years after that campaign ran, Gerry was diagnosed with lung cancer in the summer of 2013 and was told he only had eight months to live.

He and his family allowed the HSE and a film crew to film them over several days about what it was like to get such a devastating diagnosis.

In the campaign, Gerry said that before his second diagnosis he believed he was one of the lucky 50 per cent of smokers who did not die from smoking.

“I wish I was an actor [but] the reality is that I’m not an actor. I am dying. I’m dying from cancer as a result of smoking,” he said in the ad,which has received over a quarter of a million views since the end of December.

Gerry told TheJournal.ie that month that he believed the campaign would be a “nice legacy to leave behind” if it helped someone to give up smoking.

He said part one of the things that convinced him to get involved in the campaign was for his children and his family.

“I think I underestimated the degree of difficulty for them but now they’ve gone through it [the campaign], it was a kind of binding thing and something they can look back on and say “we did this with Dad together and what a great thing to do””.

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