Giving up smoking


Age at interview: 55

Brief outline: Blodwen, 55, gave up smoking a few months ago. Blodwen is White Welsh, works in the criminal justice system and lives by herself. She started smoking when she was about 18-19 but later gave up for several years. She started smoking again after going back to work. She later gave up after a brief illness and for financial reasons and says it was quite easy to give up.

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Blodwen started smoking when she was about 18-19 and says it was just ‘social smoking’. She smoked because it was cool and mainly used to smoke only when she went out for a drink. Her husband stopped smoking shortly after they met but Blodwen stopped only when she was pregnant. She didn’t smoke for ‘many, many years’ after that. She started again when she went back to work full time. At work she says there was a ‘smoking environment’ and a lot of women smoked. She can’t ‘really make sense of it’ now, but found at the time that smoking was a ‘de-stresser’. She thinks that any cravings she had were psychological and not physical. Blodwen found that she used to plan her day around smoking, and smoke between appointments in the car even after the smoking ban was in place. She felt that this was part of the addiction. Although she smoked in many places, she said she wouldn’t smoke in the street and that her mother didn’t know that she smoked. She smoked menthol cigarettes as she didn’t like ‘normal’ cigarettes. Blodwen never felt physically unwell from smoking and used to go running regularly. She doesn’t think that her health came into her decision to stop as much as financial considerations did, and that she just didn’t feel a ‘need’ for it [smoking] over time.

When Blodwen gave up she had been ill for a couple of weeks and hadn’t felt like smoking. Then she went to the chemist who said that she could ‘do it’ and didn’t need the patches but the nicotine replacement gum and the inhalator instead. She thinks it was the gum that helped her the most, and chewed it so much that her jaw ached. Blodwen didn’t think that she needed to go to a smoking cessation group; she had previously ended up not smoking at work in any case as it was a no-smoking building and she didn’t like going outside to have a cigarette. She didn’t like the ban on smoking in public places at the time, but in hindsight she thinks it was a good thing. She didn’t want to smoke in front of clients and also felt she was ‘ready’ to quit. She is glad she has given up but says she doesn’t feel any healthier for it and doesn’t feel any different. She hasn’t put on any weight but is glad she doesn’t ‘stink of cigarettes’. She does find that she is critical of other people who smoke now, and she knows that she ‘won’t smoke again’ as she has ‘made that decision’. Blodwen has worked with people with alcohol addiction and she says that what ‘gets’ people the most is that they aren’t aware of how much money they spend. She was surprised by how much more money she had in her own purse at the end of the week when she had stopped. She realises how much she is able to save now and is able to go on two holidays a year rather than one. She quit at the same time as a friend, and in retrospect she thinks that this has helped her. She thinks that a lot of people at work have given up too, and she has little ‘tests’ for herself like not smoking when her friends come around. Not smoking has just got ‘easier’ and isn’t something that ‘enters her head’ now.


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