Giving up smoking


Age at interview: 50

Brief outline: Angela, 50, works in customer services. She is White British, divorced and lives with her daughter. Angela started smoking when she was 10/11. She noticed that some friends then stopped but she didn’t. Later she gave up with the help of a smoking cessation worker at work and found that the medication Varenicline helped her to give up.

Audio & video

Angela started smoking when she was ten or eleven by pinching cigarettes from her mum’s purse. She said that ‘back then’ you could get money for recycling bottles and could then use the money to buy cigarettes in ones and twos from a newsagent who would put them in with your sweets. Angela started smoking because everybody around her was and got over the ‘nastiness’ of it in around a week. She didn’t like the ‘stop smoking’ adverts, but felt bad for only a ‘split second’ then didn’t think about it. She remembers when she was younger you could ‘smoke anywhere’. Even more recently, at her place of work there used to be a shelter outside. She thinks that ‘doctors and everybody blame everything on smoking’ but she just ‘got on with it’ when she smoked. She can remember that Vera Duckworth from Coronation Street talking in a documentary about her respiratory problems ‘hit home’, but she still continued to smoke.

‘Years ago’ Angela gave up smoking for three years, but had just one cigarette when something happened with her aunty and she was hooked again. At one point she needed a knee operation and the surgeon told her that it was better for her to try and stop. She thought ‘they put everything on smoking’ and thought that a lot of people who smoke think like that. She decided to give up as she ‘just didn’t want to do it anymore’. She didn’t want to feel panicked when she left the house without cigarettes and didn’t want her fingers to be ‘brown’ and her teeth to be ‘terrible’. She thinks that it ‘should have been a health thing’ but she was only enjoying a few of the cigarettes she had in a day.

Angela did try to give up when she was living with her brother, but she was going through a stressful period. At work, there was a group set up to try and help people stop smoking. She thinks her workplace was good because they gave their workers somewhere to go and get help. She went every week and she tried ‘all sorts’ until she ‘got stuff that worked for’ her. She first went to a group and then worked individually with a smoking cessation worker. Angela was glad that she worked individually as when she wasn’t doing so well she felt she would be embarrassed in a group. She liked the support worker as she never gave up on her and encouraged her.

Angela tried patches ‘for about a week’. She tried ‘everything’ but still wanted to smoke. Then she tried varenicline (Champix) and continued to smoke for two weeks as advised, and then stopped. At first she found the medication made her felt sick, but then took the tablets with a handful of nuts and found this improved things. She discovered she didn’t want a cigarette, but just ‘thought’ that she did. She doesn’t think she will ever smoke again as it was ‘such a hard struggle’ to give up. She thinks quitting is great as she ‘doesn’t smell’ and can ‘smell her own perfume’. However she said that at first she felt ‘terrible’ for about six weeks, and has developed irritable bowel syndrome which she thinks is connected to giving up smoking. She has put some weight on, so she still feels the ‘out-of-breath thing’ that she experienced with smoking because of the extra weight. She says her skin feels softer, but that is the only positive effect she has noticed. She wanted to have a lot more energy, but she hasn’t found it has happened yet. She is ‘dreading’ not seeing her smoking cessation worker. She chats about her weight with her and just ‘chats’ generally. Angela found that she wasn’t judged by this worker who was ‘still there’ even when she appeared to be failing, and she doesn’t necessarily have to give advice but just to ‘be there’.

She tells other people to ‘try everything out there’ to stop, but it has to be a personal decision. She likes not to be ‘relying’ on ‘this thing’ and enjoys feeling that she isn’t dependent on it anymore.


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