I have a 17-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter. Two young kids, and I want to live. I’ve only got one life – and smoking had to go.
43-year-old carpet fitter Andy Castle from Ashton-Under-Lyne in Tameside quit smoking after 25 years in February 2020. The turning point for dad-of-two Andy came when one day, he woke up and decided, enough was enough.
I have seen how badly smoking can impact people’s health – the really serious effects and I want to be around for my kids. I carried on smoking when I wasn’t in a good place in my life, but I knew I couldn’t go on like that and I am really glad that I have quit for good now.
Andy, who works for a flooring company, said: “I was so used to smoking. I started young, around 18, so it became part of my life. I would even keep a secret stash of rolling tobacco somewhere in case I ran out.
“The nature of my job meant it was easy to take a cigarette break. I’d say I smoked around 30 a day. I think I’d gotten so used to smoking, I lost any pleasure from it. It was a routine for me. I smoked first thing in the morning and last thing at night, mainly for boredom and because I thought it relieved stress. But I always worried it was going to catch up with me eventually.
“I have a 17-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter. Two young kids, and I want to live. I’ve only got one life – and smoking had to go.
“I quit after 25 years in February 2020. My relationship had broken up and my daughter hated me smoking. She used to say to me: “you need to stop smoking daddy, or you’ll get really ill. And I don’t want to see you in a hospital bed.” I knew I had to do something for the sake of my kids, so I made an appointment with my GP and I was prescribed the stop smoking medication Champix.
“I was assigned a stop smoking service advisor, Eva, who was amazing. She called me monthly to see how I was getting on and helped me through some tough times. I did slip up a couple of times during lockdown, but she made me feel better, told me to put it down to experience and keep going as I was doing so well.
“My little girl and my lad love that I have quit. I tried to stop when my son was born, but I wasn’t successful. It took me a long time to finally get over the cravings, but I’m over that hill now and I consider myself an ex-smoker. I know it’s still early days and I get the odd urge here and there, but I’m happy and my family is happy.
“I have saved a fortune. I used to spend around £375 a month on cigarettes. Quitting has paid for Christmas!
“The health benefits are great. I can breathe a lot better, I have more energy and feel miles better in myself, which helps with the kids and work. Everything tastes a million times better – even the little things you take for granted like tea and coffee.
“You definitely need family and friends in your corner. My son and daughter are really proud of me for quitting. My new girlfriend has never smoked and she has been a great support to me. We enjoy getting out and going for walks together.
“I have seen how badly smoking can impact people’s health – the really serious effects and I want to be around for my kids. I carried on smoking when I wasn’t in a good place in my life, but I knew I couldn’t go on like that and I am really glad that I have quit for good now.
“For anyone thinking about quitting in 2021 – you can do it. You really can. You’ve just got to put your mind at ease. It is difficult at first, but after the first two weeks – it’s a breeze. Medication worked for me so find the right support and you will get there.”