Quitting fags is not the drag it once was
THIS is the second week of Stoptober, the national campaign to help smokers kick the habit for good.
Only three per cent of successful quitters stub it out without support, with many needing the advice and encouragement offered by Swindon’s Stop Smoking Service delivered by SEQOL.
But when Helen May-Peters quit 15 years ago, she didn’t have that luxury.
The 49-year-old said: “I don’t know that there was any specific trigger. I was at the point in my life where several different things came together and I just knew it was time to stop.
“I started thinking about cancer, and my mother had died from cancer, which made me more likely to be somebody who gets it.
“I was training at the time to be a holistic therapist which doesn’t really go with the smoking and I knew I didn’t want to be still smoking when I was 40.
“This time I wanted to stop. It was the difference between saying ‘I should stop’ and just stopping.”
When Helen quit, the support and nicotine replacement therapies available to smokers today were not around, and quitters had to fight against sleepless nights and vivid dreams caused by 24-hour patches and flakey, foul-tasting gum.
“I didn’t use any support because there were only patches and gum available at the time and you couldn’t get it on prescription, so I just thought it was too expensive,” she said.
“I was a bit hard on myself. I thought I did not need it and didn’t understand using stuff that you were trying to get off of to help you get off it.
“I wouldn’t recommend that though to anyone. Not unless they had good ethical reasons for not using the products available.”
Now Helen works with Swindon’s Stop Smoking Service, helping others to stub it out for good.
She said: “It’s nice to have a job where you feel that you are part of somebody’s process of changing their life.
“I trained as a designer and this was not a job I would have applied for. Even if I saw it advertised today I don’t think I would have applied for it.
“But ten years ago a friend of mine asked me to start getting involved in the support group and I’ve been working here ever since.”
One in every five adults in Swindon still smoke, despite it being the UK’s biggest preventable killer with someone dying from a smoking related illness every six seconds.
But research shows that those who stop for 28 days are five times more likely to stop for good, and Public Health England’s Stoptober campaign, now in its second year, is encouraging smokers to give it up this month.
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