Giving up smoking


Age at interview: 41

Brief outline: Jules, 41, gave up smoking a year ago. He is Welsh, works in a factory, is married and lives with his wife and young daughter. Jules started smoking when he was about 13. By the time he went to college he was smoking regularly. He tried different things to give up including Allen Carr’s book, patches, and medication, but thinks he was only successful when he really wanted to give up.

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Jules started smoking at school with some boys he knew. By the age of 13 he was smoking a cigarette every other day and his Dad was ‘very disappointed’ when he found out. When his Dad produced articles from newspapers about how bad cigarettes were he thought ‘oh, here we go again’. He always knew smoking was ‘bad for you’, and remembered seeing the pictures of lung damage on the back of cigarette packets and being shocked, but also ‘not seeing it’ after a while.

He smoked more regularly at college and, by the time he moved to Cornwall when he was 19, he smoked more and more weed. He remembers ‘nice times’ but finds it difficult to remember the specifics - something he attributes to smoking dope. He preferred smoking weed to drinking alcohol as there was ‘no aggression’ involved. Although he finds it quite weird not to be able to remember particular events, he has no regrets and ‘would do the same again’. He says that he wasn’t physically addicted to weed, but had a psychological dependence. However with tobacco he realised that he would be rushing through his chores to get out, or would have cramps in his stomach when he spent time with his parents and wasn’t smoking. He says it felt like ‘his chest tightening up’. When he was about 20 he gave up smoking for a ‘couple of months’. Jules says that when he was younger his ‘life seemed so long’ and then ‘the next thing you know, you’re in sort of your mid-40s and you see you’re still smoking’. Later in his twenties he had a couple of attempts that ‘only ever lasted sort of a week’. Later he had hypnosis and he believes that this worked only because he did actually want to give up smoking and had paid £100 for ‘the privilege’ of being hypnotized. It ‘worked for a year’. He says that he didn’t feel any different, but the phrase ‘I am a non-smoker and will be a non-smoker for the rest of my life’ is still with him. His downfall after that followed a ‘tragedy in the family’ and it ‘all fell down’ and he started smoking.

He wanted to give up ‘purely and simply for health reasons’ and noticed he was panting going up and down stairs. He gave up for a time but then got ‘sucked back in’ with ‘old friends’. When he met his current partner she smoked, and there was therefore no incentive to give up. However, they both decided to give up on a skiing holiday, but then he started again when he was on his own. He thinks that, because he started smoking in secret, it was easy to start again without telling anyone. Soon after they both started again, but then his partner gave up when she was pregnant and did so ‘virtually immediately’, whereas he gave up only when his daughter was 9 weeks old. He felt that previously if he took risks with his health that it was ‘his life’, but now he had to ‘be there’ for his daughter.

Jules once had medication from his doctor, but only for six weeks, and then the desire to start smoking returned. Allen Carr’s book worked for a week but then the ‘nicotine [won] in the end’. He didn’t do anything in a group as he felt that if he failed you were only ‘letting yourself down’ rather than the ‘perceived support that you’re letting down as well’. His message to people who want to give up smoking is that it is possible if you really want to do it. However, he thinks it can be really patronising when you’re smoking for someone to tell you to give up, as it is likely you will be miserable that you are reliant on ‘this thing’.


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