I’m so pleased I quit smoking as I now have a longer life expectancy and can enjoy spending time with my husband, family and friends
Martin York, 58, from Manchester quit smoking nine years ago with his husband, as they recognised it was easier to quit together to keep each other motivated. After losing family members to smoking-related illnesses, Martin was all too aware of the impact smoking can have. His own health was already being affected by it and he wanted to enjoy later life with his husband.
Both my grandmother and uncle died from lung cancer and seeing first-hand the harm of smoking was devastating. I knew I had to make an informed decision about my own health, as I developed a chronic cough in my 40s.
“I started smoking when I was around 13. Most of my family and some of my friends smoked. When my parents divorced, I found it difficult to handle and I became quite rebellious. Smoking was one of the ways I fought back. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents and aunt and uncle, all of whom smoked, so I was surrounded by cigarettes.
“I became a fairly heavy smoker. By the time I started work at 16 I was already smoking regularly, and this increased to a pack of 20 a day during the week. Over a weekend I could easily smoke 100 cigarettes. Smoking played a huge role in socialising, as all my friends smoked. I tried to quit in my early 30s for financial reasons, but I eventually relapsed as I wasn’t in the right mindset at the time.
“Sadly, both my grandmother and uncle died from lung cancer and seeing first-hand the harm of smoking was devastating. I knew I had to make an informed decision about my own health, as I developed a chronic cough in my 40s. I was caught in the dilemma of knowing what it was doing to me yet associating pleasure with the incredibly hard-to-break habit.
“My husband was a smoker when I met him 23 years ago. When he decided to quit smoking, I realised that it was my opportunity to quit too as I didn’t want to smoke around him, but it was difficult as we were both addicted. He gave up multiple times temporarily before I found the strength to join him. I remember one night lying in bed, watching TV and smoking and I had really bad chest pains; I honestly thought I was having a heart attack. It was horrendous and it was my wake-up call – I had to stop.”
Martin, a Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, decided to throw away his remaining cigarettes and lighter and opted to try different nicotine replacement therapies to help him quit. However, in the end it was down to sheer willpower and the support of his husband that he quit successfully.
“It took me a while to stop, and I tried different things to help me quit including nicotine tablets and an e-cigarette, as I missed the ritual of smoking. I had a very stressful job and had convinced myself that smoking somehow helped with the stress. Even though I knew it was harming me, I associated smoking with pleasure. I knew I had to break this cycle to quit successfully. I read a book by Paul McKenna which helped me to understand what the effects of smoking were on my body without feeling like I was being lectured to. This helped me to go cold turkey.
“I slipped up on a few occasions when I was out socialising especially after having a drink, and then once on a foreign holiday where there were free cigarettes at the hotel bar. Overall, it probably took me about two years to stop smoking entirely, but I have now been smokefree for nine years and the benefits have been significant.
“I’m no longer coughing, I’m breathing much better, my sense of taste is improved, it’s less taxing on my heart and at a recent health MOT my GP told me that my lung capacity is now the same as a non-smoker, which I never thought would be possible. I’m so pleased I quit smoking as I now have a longer life expectancy and can enjoy spending time with my husband, family and friends. I’ve also saved a lot of money, which has been a nice additional benefit.
“My advice to anyone who wants to quit smoking is not to give yourself a hard time if you relapse. Accept that it’s going to take time and effort, but for every cigarette you don’t smoke you’re adding time to your life. You may need to try a variety of techniques. Something will work for you. Be proud of every day you don’t smoke; on the days you do smoke, remind yourself that tomorrow is another day, and you can still succeed. It all makes a difference.”