Giving up smoking

Cassie

Female
Age at interview: 22

Brief outline: Cassie, 22, is currently trying to give up smoking. She is Mixed Black African Caribbean/White British, is studying and lives in London in shared accommodation. Cassie had her first cigarette when she was 7 but started smoking regularly when she was 13. She has always suffered with asthma and first tried to quit when she was 18. She is currently trying to stop and has cut down considerably. She plans to attend a drop-in clinic to get more support.

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Cassie had her first cigarette when she was 7 years old. All of her family smoked in the house and she says cigarettes were readily available. She started smoking regularly at 13 and used to buy 50 cigarettes every weekend. Later she smoked 25 a day, and says she was ‘aware of the health implications’. However she has always had a sore throat and was diagnosed with asthma at the age of 9 months. She also thinks that her voice has changed over the years because of smoking. When Cassie’s Mum found out she smoked she was ‘very angry’ and upset as she was under-age. Cassie in turn thinks that her mum used cigarettes as a ‘pillar of strength’ to help her cope. The first time Cassie tried to quit was when she was about 18 and she got ‘patches’ from the doctor; she says that it wasn’t bad, even though she still had her ‘morning cigarette’. She thought she just had to get over the ‘three-day hump’ and then it would be ‘plain sailing’, but it wasn’t. She tried again six months ago and has recently tried nicotine replacement patches once more. She had had problems with skin irritation with the patches, and she tried lozenges but doesn’t like the taste. She has found the inhalator more useful although she worries she will still have the habit of putting something to her mouth. She thinks it’s the habit she has to break, rather than the physical addiction.

Cassie says she has always wanted to give up smoking but it had ‘got a hold of her’. She says that her GP was ‘very rude’ to her and was ‘trying to tell her off’ about smoking. She prefers the asthma nurse that she sees, and she trusts her as she had previously smoked and has now given up. Cassie fears that her current attempt is ‘not going so great’. She said the pharmacist ‘wasn’t very encouraging’ and didn’t really talk to her. When she ran out of her prescription, she didn’t go back to him. She is down to smoking 7-8 per day and wants more support to stop. In the university holidays she couldn’t get the support she wanted, but when she moves back to London she wants to go to a drop-in centre. She has also used the internet and started blogging about her quitting attempt, but then stopped as she thought she might look ‘silly’ and worried people would see her fail.

Cassie has chronic asthma so she says she really ‘shouldn’t smoke’. She now smokes loose tobacco because cigarettes ‘hurt her chest’. When she was 17 her lung collapsed during an asthma attack and she was in intensive care for 5 days. However, the first thing she did when her friends visited her was to ask to be taken outside so she could have a cigarette. She says that the psychological ‘grip’ of smoking is very strong and she says that she has even been through a bin to find the end of a cigarette. In the future she would like to get ‘behind’ some of the reasons why she smokes. She says now she is ‘waiting for the thing’ to make her stop. She says she does love smoking - ‘the taste and the smell’ - but that she wants to give up because of the health implications. She has asked others about the best way to stop and wants better support, with more personal interaction. There are also a couple of things that make her nervous about quitting smoking, namely, coughing more and putting on weight, both things that she has heard from other people. She isn’t doing as well as she wants to, and hopes to do better when she goes to London.

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