I was 11 years old when I started smoking, my father was a fisherman and my mother a fish house lass, and both were heavy smokers, so I grew up around it. It was part and parcel of the lifestyle we lived in. Obviously, there were lots of cigarettes around the house constantly, so I thought I’d start too. At school, it was the cool thing to do, all the ‘in’ gang were smoking, but starting smoking was the biggest mistake of my life.
I smoked more and more as I got older until I was smoking 80 cigarettes a day. I smoked the most when I had my fourth child in 1993, as I was so stressed as I had three other children to look after as well. Afterwards, I had my daughter in 1996 and I managed to cut down to 40-50 a day. Eventually, I cut right back to 15-20 a day, but I couldn’t finish that final push and get rid of them all together until I reached out to the Smokefree Hull service.
Overall, I think I tried to quit 3-4 times in the past, but it never happened. I didn’t have the support from a service before, which is why I think I’ve been successful this time. I lost both my parents to COPD, and even though I watched them go through it, I’m sorry to say that this still didn’t stop me smoking.
I also developed COPD a long time ago, and I’m asthmatic as well, so I struggle with my breathing and I’m constantly coughing too. I was sick of coughing and whenever I went food shopping, I would always need to buy bottles and bottles of buttercup syrup cough medicine, as if I was buying milk!
The final realisation came one day when I was stood at the top of the stairs. Previously I always smoked on the first step, and I noticed all the stains on the walls and ceiling from my cigarettes, which had left everything looking discoloured. I’m very house proud and I couldn’t bear looking at it, so the cigarettes just had to go!
One of the other reasons I wanted to stop smoking was because my husband bought me a beautiful vintage bike to ride, but I couldn’t manage to ride it with all the coughing, so it has just been collecting dust in the garage. This was such a shame, and I wanted to be able to say that one day I would ride it!
Covid-19 did play a part in my decision to stop smoking too, as I thought I’d have no chance of surviving it if I were to catch the virus. This frightened me, as I wouldn’t be able to see my kids and grandkids grow up, I couldn’t even chase them around the garden as I would get out of breath.
Due to my health condition, I have been shielding, which helped me with my smokefree journey. It gave me the focus I needed, otherwise I really do think I’d still be smoking on my lunch breaks at work.
My brother used the Smokefree Hull service and did well using Champix. I thought to myself, ‘if he can do it, so can I’. The very next day I reached for the phone and gave the service a call and I’ve never looked back. I’m now four weeks smokefree and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made!
During my first appointment, I was prescribed Champix, like my brother, to help me stop smoking too and I got on very well with it. I didn’t experience many cravings, but when I did, I would use the breathing exercises which I’d been taught through my COPD classes.
I haven’t used my COPD inhaler or my asthma inhaler once since I stopped smoking, it’s improved my breathing and my lungs so much. I feel so much better and I’ll never go back now!
My sleeping behaviour has improved too, as I’m no longer getting up a few times a night coughing and them having to have a cigarette. Throughout the night I used to have 5-10 ‘rollies’, on top of those I’d already smoked throughout the day too. However, since stopping I’m sleeping right through the night now and I have more energy during the day too.
The extra money has come in handy too, I’ve been able to redecorate over the stained walls and refurbished half the house, I only have the kitchen and bathroom to do now. I think I was spending £50 a week on tobacco and cough medicine combined, so financially I’m a lot better off too.
I am also happy to say that I achieved my goal, and I now cycle 2.2 miles a day on my beautiful bike and it’s been wonderful. I’m also able to go back to work soon too. I work as a carer in a care home, and I’m really looking forward to working again.
The service was really helpful in supporting me through my smokefree journey. I really liked talking to my Smokefree Advisor Chelsea every week and to show her how well I’d been doing. I was such a heavy smoker, so I think if I can stop, then others can too. It’s a horrible habit and I think, if I can share my story and help others, then Chelsea has done her job, and I’ve done mine too.
My advice would be to put the extra money aside, and you’ll feel and smell better. There are so many benefits from not smoking, more money in your back pocket, your skin feels better, and you feel healthier too. Just go for it, you’ll never look back!
Even my daughter’s smoking doesn’t bother me now, I can be around family and friends who smoke, and it doesn’t make me want a cigarette. You don’t realise when you’re smoking how badly you smell; I think back at all the people who had to put up with my smoking before and it sickens me.
My husband is proud of me, he’s been nagging me for a while to stop. He has seen me having to cope with losing my parents to COPD due to smoking, and he didn’t want it to happen to me too. He doesn’t smoke, I always used to say that I smoked enough for the both of us. Now I realise that smoking and not caring about COPD was just a selfish attitude to have and unfair on my family.
I would recommend the service and the support they provide. However, you have to want to stop smoking too, if you don’t commit to it you won’t succeed.
I want to say a huge thank you to my Advisor Chelsea and the Smokefree Hull team, if they were not there to support me, I would not have been able to do it alone!