Giving up smoking


Age at interview: 53

Brief outline: Caroline, 53, lives with her husband, has 5 grown-up children, and has quit smoking recently with an online programme. Caroline smoked 20 a day for much of her adult life. About three years ago she experienced a ‘rattling’ in her chest and tried many different methods of giving up. She finally stopped with the help of an online support programme and now feels much better, and even goes running with her dog.

Audio & video

Caroline started smoking when she was about 12 and used to get her sister to buy cigarettes for her. They used to hide in a phone box and smoke on the way to school. Both her parents used to smoke so she says she used to be able to hide the smell in the house quite easily. She thinks that by the age of 16 she smoked about 20 a day. She remembers that it was cool to smoke in clubs and thinks that it was a lot easier to get hold of cigarettes when she was young. She felt that smoking gave her a bit more ‘confidence’, gave her a ‘boost’, and made her feel better. She worked in a bank where she felt it was the ‘norm to smoke’. When she was pregnant she became a ‘secret smoker’. After this time she was on maternity pay so she says she couldn’t afford as many cigarettes. She smoked through all five pregnancies and smoked in front of her children, which she knows now ‘wasn’t a very sensible thing to do’. She and her husband used to smoke only in the garden when their children were teenagers. Her children had had it ‘drummed into them’ at school that smoking was harmful, and she can remember trying to talk over anti-smoking adverts on the television. She said that two of her children have smoked in the past but mostly they were ‘anti-smoking’. She remembers smoking menthol cigarettes that she bought from Holland and Barratt, thinking they were healthier. She wanted to give up because of her children and also for financial reasons, as she realised the money she was spending on cigarettes could be spent on her kids instead. Caroline says that the smoking ban in public places ‘didn’t bother her too much’.

About three years ago Caroline started to ‘feel the effects of smoking’ as when she lay in bed she could ‘hear her chest rattling’. She tried to give up but again became a ‘secret smoker’. Later she heard that there was a smoking cessation group and she used to go there to get nicotine replacement patches, even though she still used to smoke. In March 2009 she had a ‘serious attempt’ to give up which lasted about four months. Then she started smoking herbal cigarettes again, and later started putting the odd ‘normal’ cigarette into her herbal packet. She started smoking ‘normal’ cigarettes again whilst on holiday. She then had another attempt to give up which lasted about six months, then just started having the ‘odd one’ when she went out.

Caroline tried a number of different methods to quit, including patches, and lozenges. However the patches irritated her and she found that she had a ‘funny sort of pain’ when she put them on. Caroline joined an online forum to help her stop and got advice about stopping, but started smoking more and more when she went out. She found it useful not knowing the people on the forum, but she said she never knew whether they were ‘still having the odd cigarette’ or not. However later she joined the ‘Nicorette Active Stop’ programme, a scheme in which she received text messages and emails every day to support her. The programme gave her tips such as remembering to compare how she fared running up the stairs when she first stopped with the same activity a week later. She feels this programme was successful because she really wanted to give up, and not because she felt that she should. She experienced cravings but learnt to ‘almost enjoy them’ as she felt it was one less craving she was going to experience in her life. She hasn’t smoked since and now doesn’t know why she smoked before. She says she feels much better, and can now run with her dog; the ‘rattling’ in her chest has gone, and she says it’s nice to be able to play with her grandchildren without having to eat lots of mints beforehand. She says that the only downside is that she has gained 10 pounds but asserts that she would rather have to lose weight than not be able to breathe properly.

Now she can’t see what pleasure people get from smoking, but says she doesn’t want to preach to people. She thinks that cutting down doesn’t work, as it made her enjoy smoking more. Now she finds it a relief that she can go all day without worrying when she can have a cigarette. As a non-smoker, the smoking ban annoys her as she has to wait inside whilst her friends have a cigarette outside. She is proud of herself for stopping and shows her friends, via the app on her phone, how long it is that she hasn’t smoked.


Please use the form below to tell us what you think of the site. We’d love to hear about how we’ve helped you, how we could improve or if you have found something that’s broken on the site. We are a small team but will try to reply as quickly as possible.

Please note that we are unable to accept article submissions or offer medical advice. If you are affected by any of the issues covered on this website and need to talk to someone in confidence, please contact The Samaritans or your Doctor.

Make a Donation to

Find out more about how you can help us.

Send to a friend

Simply fill out this form and we'll send them an email