Giving up smoking

Being a non-smoker

It can be hard to be sure when someone has become a ‘non-smoker’. People talked about being sure they would never smoke and couldn’t imagine how they had ever smoked. Often they couldn’t stand the smell of cigarettes or couldn’t be near anybody who smoked. Others said that they still missed smoking but had accepted that they weren’t going to smoke again since experience had shown them that they couldn’t have ‘just one cigarette’ without starting again.

Feeling certain
Different lives

People spoke about the positive effect of giving up on their social lives and daily routines. Caroline no longer had to plan her days around cigarettes, and Sue could now do long train journeys without worrying. Occasionally Andrew and Andy had felt that they were left alone in pubs when their friends went outside to smoke, but that had lessened. Angela was glad that she no longer had to panic whether she had any more cigarettes left.
Different identities

The image of smoking has changed over the years, and smoking has for various reasons become less socially accepted. Some people noted that those who had met them since they stopped found it very hard to see them as ever being a smoker.
Some people had always associated smoking with particular types of identities. Peter associated it with intellectuals, Anna with artistic people and Sue with rebellious people. Stopping smoking could lead to a change of identity that people had to deal with.
Raf says that at first people laughed when he said he was going to quit smoking, but now people are beginning to accept that he has stopped. For Carol giving up smoking was the best thing she has ever done, and she would be happy if she could motivate just one other person to give up.

(Also see ‘Smoking: memories and experiences’).

Last reviewed August 2018.

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