John's Story*

*Please note that this story was recorded last year, and Champix is still no longer available at the present time. Name has been changed.

I first tried smoking when I was 16 years old, but this was only socially, and I never felt addicted. Then when I was 39 years old, I went through a divorce, and the stress of this situation triggered me, and I started smoking 20 cigarettes a day after that. I’m an emotional smoker and I only smoke when I’m upset, stressed, or anxious.

I tried to stop a few years ago, and I managed to by going cold turkey for a month or so. However, then my niece and brother both died within a month of each other, and I fell apart again. I needed the cigarettes to cope and battle through my grief, it was a process that I needed to go through.

Then the NHS sent a letter in the post about conducting a lung function test, so I went along for a reading. It showed I had high levels of carbon monoxide in my lungs, so I was referred to the SmokeFree Hull service.

My motivations for stopping smoking are due to wanting to improve my health, I’m 59 years old now and I knew smoking would impact me later in life. My mother-in-law has COPD, and I didn’t want to end up with her condition. The lung reading was the wake-up call that I needed.

I started the programme in March 2020, before the lockdown, and I had a few meetings, but when the pandemic hit, I continued my treatment over the phone, and I found that the calls really kept me going.

Trying to stay smoke-free in lockdown was very hard, as it wasn’t a normal situation to be in. There were times when I wanted a cigarette, but I stuck with it.

SmokeFree Hull prescribed the drug Champix and I also had weekly telephone support. When you take Champix along with having a cigarette, it takes the pressure off, and eventually, when the drug starts to work it makes you gradually cut back on your smoking until you don’t need it anymore. It was the pressure and stress that was getting to me, so this way of treatment really worked well for my circumstances and mindset.

Now that I’ve finished my smoke-free programme, I’m not coughing as much as I used to. Previously when I would get a cold, my cough would linger for a long time afterward, so it has really changed my mindset and I’m really proud of myself for getting through it. I can now also taste and smell things better, it’s wonderful. Overall food just tastes so much better these days - the extra money has been great too!

I have now completed my 12-week treatment plan and I’m 3 months smoke-free. I’m proud of what I have achieved, and it was nice sharing my success and experience with someone. Mhairi, my SmokeFree Advisor, was really nice and friendly. She was consistent with her calls and support, which I found valuable and allowed me to gain some structure. We’d chat about other things as well, so it wasn’t just straight down to business. When you know you’ve got someone calling you each week, to see how you’re getting on, it makes you not want to waste their time or your own.

The service and level of support made it so much easier for me to quit than if I were to try quitting on my own.  As an emotional smoker, it was nice to talk through my stress too. At SmokeFree, the Advisors will order your prescription for you and organise your treatment, it’s so simple!

If you’re just starting out on your quit journey, try not to put too much pressure on yourself. What helped me stay on track, was the knowledge that the cravings would go quickly.

Rather than reach for a cigarette, do some housework, or distract yourself with something to take your mind off of having a cigarette. It’s about taking the small wins and then you’ll succeed!

I would recommend the SmokeFree Hull service to others, sometimes when you talk to people who haven’t smoked and they tell you to stop, it doesn’t really carry the same weight, but SmokeFree Hull really know what they’re talking about, and they know the struggles we’re faced with.

Just give it a go, don’t give up on yourself - give up on smoking!


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