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Use No Smoking Day on March 14 to help you to quit

13 March 2018 Local News

Former smoker Sarah Brain says No Smoking Day (tomorrow) is the perfect opportunity to give up the habit for good – and make a huge difference to your health.

The 34-year-old social worker, who works in Stoke-on-Trent, started smoking when she was 17. On average she smoked 10 cigarettes a day, spending around £30 a week.

Sarah, who has two children, would get out of breath climbing the stairs and wanted to improve her health. She made the decision to give up her habit for good on New Year’s Day – and hasn’t looked back since.

She said: “I want to be around for my children and be healthy enough to do things with them. My job has made me conscious of what older age can bring in terms of health issues and although I am still quite young, I was scared of how smoking might impact my health in later years.

“I was also worried about the cost. I want to have money to do things with my kids, take them to nice places and just have more money in general. Smoking was starting to cost so much money that I couldn’t really justify it, and I’d prefer to spend my money on my kids and other things we need.

“Also, I’ve never smoked in my home or around my children but I was worried that by smoking, I wasn’t really setting a good example for them in the future.”

Sarah receives support from Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s stop-smoking service, which includes weekly meetings with an adviser who visits her at work to help keep her motivated and to monitor her carbon monoxide levels. Initially she used nicotine gum and patches, but is now managing to stay smoke-free without any medication.

She said: “The positive encouragement from my adviser has really helped. It isn’t easy when you’re trapped in the nicotine cycle, and the psychological dependency is also hard to break.

“I didn’t think I could do it, but I have. I considered myself a strong person who could achieve anything I put my mind to but was angry with myself that I couldn’t break the smoking habit. It made me feel weak.

“But it’s the best feeling ever to have been able to stop and make positive changes. It makes me feel stronger that I know I can deal with stressful situations without needing a cigarette.”

Sarah has also turned to exercise as a way of coping with stress instead of reaching for a cigarette.

She said: “I quickly realised that one of the big triggers for me to want to smoke was when I was anxious or stressed, so I knew I’d need some other outlet for that. I joined a local ‘couch to 5k’ group with a friend and started to go out running a few times a week. I also do boxercise classes twice a week.

“I don’t ever want to look back now. Although it’s not easy and there are a million excuses we tell ourselves for why we do smoke and why we can’t quit, it is possible. Using a specific day to make the change really helped me to see it as a new start in life, so I would definitely encourage people to take advantage of something like No Smoking Day and go for it.”

In Stoke-on-Trent, 25.2 per cent, or 49,527, of adults (aged 18 and over) currently smoke compared to the national average of 15.5 per cent. In addition, 19.3 per cent of pregnant women smoke compared to the national average of 10.5 per cent.

But thanks to the support available in the city, these statistics are improving every year.

The Smokefree Stoke-on-Trent group works in partnership to reduce the harm and inequalities caused by the demand, supply and use of tobacco in Stoke-on-Trent.

Councillor Randy Conteh, Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city, and chair of Smokefree Stoke-on-Trent, said: “It’s fantastic news that Sarah has been able to quit smoking with the support that is available locally, and I would encourage other smokers to take advantage of No Smoking Day and do the same.

“Helping people to stop smoking is a key priority for the city council, especially as we have a higher percentage of smokers in Stoke-on-Trent compared to nationally. Smoking significantly increases the risks of a range of diseases, including lung cancer, heart disease and stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (sometimes called emphysema).

“In addition, high rates of smoking impact on the health of the local population and economy, costing around £80 million in lost productivity, healthcare costs and smoking-related fires.

“One of the aims of the Smokefree Stoke-on-Trent partnership is to co-ordinate the delivery of clear, consistent messages around the benefits of becoming smoke-free. No Smoking Day on March 14 provides an ideal opportunity for the partnership to raise the profile of the local stop-smoking service, which is free to those living and working across the city.

“Studies show smokers are four times more likely to quit with help, and our stop-smoking service provides expert advice, support and encouragement to those wanting to give up.”

There is a range of support available locally, including face-to-face help and advice, the ‘Smokefree’ app, quit kit, email and text programme. For more information go to stoke.gov.uk/smokefree, call 0800 085 0928 or text ‘smokefree’ to 60777.

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