“I started smoking as a teenager, back in 1968. All the adults I knew smoked then – parents, teachers, doctors. Smoking happened everywhere. On public transport, cinemas, hospitals (actually on the wards). Television advertising played a huge part at that age. Beautiful women and handsome rugged men all smoked in the adverts and in TV programmes. Of course peer pressure, as always, was immense.”
But this year Lydia had decided it was time to quit. “In short, it was wealth before health and there are so few places now where smoking is acceptable outside the home. My whole life was geared to accommodate cigarettes – planning where I would be able to light up was as natural as ‘have I got keys/purse’ etc. On reflection, I never had to remember to check I had my ciggies because they were always attached to my hand.
“I noticed a Quit4Life advert at my GP surgery offering a voucher, to the value of £25, that could be exchanged for a vaping starter kit. So I called and make an appointment at a local surgery, and collected my voucher and vaping kit a few days later. At my initial appointment, my adviser, Julia, was just fab. No fire and brimstone, no squillion reasons that I should stop, just gentle encouragement.”
Lydia successfully stopped smoking cigarettes by switching to vaping, and went tobacco-free in May 2018.
“Once I got the hang of the e-cig (like all new things it takes a bit of perseverance) I was amazed with myself and life in general. By and large it wasn’t so difficult after all. I had rolled my cigarettes for many years and I did miss the ritual, so I made a ritual of cleaning and filling my e-cigarette initially i.e. make a coffee, lay it all out, unscrew the barrel, unscrew the liquid, fill the barrel, etc. Now it’s just a routine part of daily life, like brushing my teeth. I don’t really feel I have lost anything. Switching to vaping is an easy transition.”
How did Lydia feel about using Quit4Life’s stop smoking service? “I liked the whole experience. I liked the advert giving me the choice, and the initial contact where again it was my choice. I liked the fact that at my initial appointment it was my decision when and how I was going to do this. I had tried going cold turkey previously, which was unsuccessful. My Quit4Life adviser was fantastic – this definitely is a case of the importance of the right person in the right position for me.”
“[Since quitting] this has been wonderful for me. I feel like I have grown up. Physically I don’t cough and I can breathe in the mornings. I have gained only 2lb in weight despite the horror stories of my youth regarding massive weight gains. I feel as normal as I ever did. I am happy with myself.
“Now I have the freedom to choose how to spend my money. No more dashing out at inopportune times before the shops close to buy tobacco. On a limited income many things just didn’t happen because smoking is so expensive. I can breathe again now in more ways than one.
“My grandchildren are prepared to hug and kiss me now without turning away from my smelly breath. My husband has stopped smoking altogether. Now there is no endless washing of ash trays. The house smells lovely.”
What advice would Lydia give to others who are thinking of quitting? “Don’t kid yourself that only a cigarette will do.”
And the best thing about being cigarette-free? “Everything!”
Congratulations to Lydia for all she has achieved in making the switch!
To find out more about Quit4Life’s vaping voucher scheme, click here.