Giving up smoking

Andrew

Male
Age at interview: 32

Brief outline: Andrew, 32, is White British, works as a supermarket manager and lives by himself. He has quit smoking for 18 months. Andrew first started smoking with his friends when he was 16. He smoked 20 a day ‘like clockwork’ until he tried to stop. Andrew had previously had a few attempts at quitting smoking with the help of nicotine replacement patches, but has now stopped for 18 months and has since trained for a marathon.

Audio & video

Andrew began smoking when he was 16 and can remember enjoying it. He started with a couple of his mates with whom went fishing and found he just joined in. When he went away from home to university he could smoke more often. He remembers that it ‘wasn’t encouraged’ but it wasn’t the ‘huge social evil’ that it is now. When he moved home again, he had to tell his parents that he smoked. Andrew smoked 20 a day ‘like clockwork’. He also smoked weed at university and afterwards, but thinks it was the tobacco, rather than weed, that he craved.

Andrew says that when he was younger he never had ‘any intention of giving up’, but later he was with a girlfriend who didn’t smoke and he thought it would be fairer to her to quit. He went to the GP and gave up ‘fairly easily’ with the help of nicotine replacement patches. However he says he gave up for the wrong reasons - i.e. for somebody else, not for himself. At this time he also took up exercise and went the ‘whole hog’, but when he started smoking again he also stopped exercising too. With hindsight he felt that he had been ‘railroaded’ into choosing the patches. He was never offered tablets (such as varenicline) and didn’t want to go around with an inhalator. Andrew found that he couldn’t get the patches to stick to his arms, and that they itched for the first few days. He found the decreases in doses hard and later used to trim the patches down so there was no big drop.

Andrew started smoking again one Christmas with a ‘cigar’ and was up to 20 a day again ‘quite quickly’. The second time he gave up he lasted the 12 weeks of the patches, then ‘lasted a week’ after, before starting again. He thought this was because his motivation wasn’t very strong. When he wanted to give up again, he was frustrated that there was a six-week waiting list. Because of this he went to the pharmacist and got an appointment easily. He found it exactly the same as going to the GP’s practice. The lady who worked in the chemist’s said that he could ‘call in’ any time, and he went to see her after the course of NRT had ended in order that he would continue not smoking after the course of patches had ended. He trained for a marathon and completed the carbon monoxide tests. Ironically Andrew found it harder giving up after the smoking ban, as all his friends smoked and left him in the pub by himself. He doesn’t have a problem with this now, but when he was first giving up it was hard. As he worked in food retail he has never been able to smoke at work. He has given up for over 18 months now and he hasn’t completely changed his lifestyle, but he does do exercise. He doesn’t think that anybody will quit for financial reasons; however, he set up a standing order for the amount he would have used for smoking, and has saved quite a bit. Although he does know people who smoke only on the weekends, he says that this was something he could never do.

Andrew says that looking back he doesn’t get as ill as he used to with ‘constant coughs and colds’ but he remembers feeling better only very gradually, and in fact recalls that at first he coughed a lot when he gave up. He thinks it was a drug addiction, and he misses it ‘very occasionally’ when he see someone smoke on the tele or in a film, but not in real life, as the smell annoys him.

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