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Michael’s story

If I can do it, so can you. But don’t do it alone, get support and find the right quitting aid for you

Michael smoked for almost five decades before being diagnosed with Emphysema. He says quitting is the best thing he's ever done.

Michael Hughes, 58, from Ashton-under-Lyne in Tameside, started smoking when he was eight years old. He smoked for nearly five decades and quit two years ago after a lung scan revealed he had Emphysema. Michael says it’s the best thing he has ever done and is sharing his story to inspire other people to quit.

The dad-of-three, who no longer works due to ill health, said: “I started smoking when I was really young, as I hung around with a group of mates who smoked. But I didn’t smoke properly until I was sixteen. We thought we looked cool at the time, as when you’re young you don’t think about how smoking can affect you.

“It wasn’t until I got much older that I began to think about my health. I smoked rollies for a long-time, and a couple of years ago I knew something was wrong. I was short of breath all of the time, and began to find doing everyday things more difficult.

“I went for a lung scan in 2022 and I was really scared as I knew they were going to find something. I was diagnosed with Emphysema which was frightening, but I was so pleased it wasn’t cancer.”

Emphysema is one of the lung conditions that falls into the COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) group. It is mainly caused by smoking and develops over time. Emphysema damages the air sacs in the lungs and causes shortness of breath.

“I had tried quitting several times before, but this time I was determined to quit. I got support through the NHS stop smoking helpline and I was given an inhalator and patches. I found the inhalator really good, as after smoking for such a long time I missed having a drag on a cigarette and I could still get a nicotine hit. However, I did find stopping smoking tricky at first and I kept having the odd cigarette for a few months. Then someone recommended I try switching to a vape and by January 2023 I had stopped smoking altogether.

“I found switching to a vape really easy, and I’ve now been smokefree for over a year. I’m really happy that I’ve quit smoking as even though I’ve got Emphysema I know I’m helping myself by no longer breathing in the harmful chemicals from cigarettes. I’ll always be short of breath, but I’ve noticed other benefits since quitting such as my skin is better, my teeth and gums are healthier, and I feel better in myself.”

Since quitting, Michael has been trying to persuade other people to stop smoking and recommends people get support to quit.

“If I can do it, so can you. But don’t do it alone, get support and find the right quitting aid for you. Get in touch with the NHS helpline as they really helped me with my quitting journey.”