Do you have to go to a stop smoking service to quit? Not always. We asked a working mummy, blogger and ex-smoker to share her experience of quitting smoking – four times!
by Hannah Antoniades
Fags, smokes, burns, rollies, cig, ciggy, butt, bummy…all words when at 14 years old I thought were cool to call cigarettes. Lets face it, I didn’t start smoking because I liked the smell, taste or cost of cigarettes, I started smoking because it was the ‘in’ thing to do.
I remember my parents saying to me that it was the start of a slippery slope. ‘Once a smoker, always a smoker’ they told me. But I was young and of course, invincible! No one cares for that sort of thing when you’re 14 years old.
I also recall the peer pressure conversation. My friends didn’t force a cigarette into my mouth and make me inhale, but they all smoked so I did too. You were the odd one out if you didn’t have a sneaky fag behind the squash courts (you couldn’t get behind the bike shed at our school!), or down ‘the block’ after school, or ‘up the green’ of an evening.
So how the devil did I eventually give up? Well my friends, it took some time. Approximately 8 years….. (I know…).
Stopping for the first time
The first time I attempted I must have been 19 years old, so 2004. I was in my second year at university and started rowing. I could not comprehend that I was the odd one out and that not a single one of them smoked. For the first time ever, I was hanging out with non-smokers! I was embarrassed to be a smoker and hid it pretty well.
Once Regatta season came around and I was with these girls pretty much 24/7 I had no option other than to try and give up. I went to my GP, they sorted me out with patches and the inhaler thingy (which was awful and I never used). To my surprise, it was quite easy.
Unfortunately this didn’t last. I don’t really remember how or why, but all I remember is by the time I met my now-husband in June 2005 I was a smoker again.
New years resolution
I next decided to try giving up again when I joined a gym in early 2006. You know, the whole New Years Resolution lark- 1. Give up smoking. 2. Lose weight bandwagon! Again, I gave up through the local Stop Smoking service. It went OK for some time, but I don’t think I was ever serious about it.
In 2007 I got a job in the recruitment industry and absolutely everyone smoked, bar about 3 people (whom I’d hasten to add are all still very good friends). Basically, if you smoked you got breaks; if you didn’t, then well, you didn’t get a break. It was also just part of the culture. You’d pop out for a wine (or ten) and a pack of 20 in hand. Looking back I was incredibly unhappy, I really hated my job. It made me ill, stressed, thin beyond belief (not in a good way) and smoking was just one of the only things I enjoyed in a pretty crappy situation.
It was only when I was made redundant in 2009 (at the grand old age of 23) that I finally decided that enough was enough. I was going to give up and I meant it this time.
My Granddad had passed away in early 2009 with emphysema caused by smoking since the age of eleven. I was going to do it. My husband and I decided to just stop. No smoking during the day. Nothing in the evening. Nothing when we had a drink. Nothing. Cold turkey.
We lasted almost 4 years this time! Again, I have absolutely no idea why I started again. I just did.
I have a feeling we went on holiday and you know how it is (well, smokers do anyway) we thought there would be nothing better than sitting out in the hot evening air with a cocktail and a ciggy in hand. We told ourselves it’d just be a holiday thing, but that didn’t happen. We ended up telling ourselves we’d just have a fag when we had a drink. Which swiftly turned into having a drink so we could have a fag! Hilarious, right?!
I didn’t smoke properly, but I’d have the occasional cigarette in the evenings with a glass of wine. We went to Glastonbury in 2014 and by then I was fully smoking, like a proper trooper. I remember coming back and getting the Glasto flu and feeling like poop. I knew that for the sake of my health and my peace of mind, I really needed to sort my smoking habit out for good.
Stopping for the fourth time
In August 2014 I gave up with the help of an e-cigarette and I haven’t touched a cigarette since. The great thing about e-cigs is that you’re still getting the nicotine and for me, weaning myself off, dropping the nicotine level slowly, really worked.
As soon as I found out I was pregnant in 2016 I immediately stopped the e-cig altogether. No ifs, ands or jiggy butts. I wanted my baby to be as safe and healthy as she could possibly be, and no way was I going to inhale any chemicals from cigs or e-cigs that could possibly harm her. Boom, that was it. Done! And that’s the way it’s been now for 15 months.
The old saying ‘once a smoker, always a smoker’ might be true, but I cannot ever imagine smoking again. I want to set the best example for my little girl, and that’s to be the healthiest and best version of myself. That’s now my priority and purpose.
I don’t want to have to worry about how second-hand smoke might be affecting my baby or whether her clothes might smell of smoke because I’d given her a cuddle. I’m absolutely not judging anyone who smokes and has kids. I just don’t feel comfortable with my little girl having to put up with my bad choices, which can affect her health too.
It doesn’t matter how many times you fail
The moral of my story this Stoptober? Fail 99 times, get back up 100 times.
It doesn’t matter how many times you fail, what is more important is how you react to that failure and move on from it.
In Telford, the local stop smoking service will help you to quit if you want to use e-cigs, so long as you provide the e-cigarette yourself. They will also give you free stop smoking medication and specialist behavioural tips and support. I’ve had good experiences with stop smoking services and I think maybe you just need to experiment a few times until you find what works for you.
In terms of smoking, for me it was about trying, trying, and trying again until I succeeded. Dedication, persistence and perseverance. Having a true purpose for giving up was exactly what I needed to succeed. I think if you can find that, you’re on to a winner.
Help to stop smoking based around you and your needs
To find out how Telford & Wrekin’s free stop smoking service can help you, contact the Healthy Lifestyles Team on 01952 382582 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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