Gerry Collins, who appeared in hard-hitting anti-smoking ads, has died

Gerry collins, a father-of-three who appeared in a hard-hitting HSE anti-smoking campaign in which he talked about his terminal lung cancer, has died of his illness.

The 57-year-old died in his sleep surrounded by his family on Sunday morning.

Gerry, a businessman who had been a coach at Dublin GAA club Kilmacud Crokes, had originally appeared in an ad in 2011 to encourage people to stop smoking. In the video, he spoke about how he had survived throat cancer after smoking up to 60 cigarettes a day for many years before giving up, and encouraged other smokers to quit.

However just two years after the 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 video them over a period of several days about what it was like to be given his diagnosis.

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

“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.

The ad has more than one quarter of a million views since it was uploaded at the end of December.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie in December, Gerry said that he believed the campaign would be a “nice legacy to leave behind” if it managed to encourage someone to give up smoking.

“I’m sorry I didn’t do it earlier,” he said at the time. “It was very difficult to know that I paid the primary role in my downfall”.

He said part of the reason he had been 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”".

His daughter Lisa posted on Facebook about the death of her father.

“Our Dad, Gerry Collins, passed away this morning peacefully in his sleep and a “happy man”,” she wrote.

(Video: HSE Ireland/YouTube)

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