Giving up smoking


Age at interview: 32

Brief outline: Laura, 32, gave up smoking at the age of 24. She is White British, a full-time mum, is married and lives with her husband and two young daughters. Laura started smoking when she was at school because of peer pressure. She was smoking more and more, and later she stopped as part of a ‘health kick’. She finds she is only rarely tempted to have a cigarette now and is glad she has given up.

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When Laura was a child she hated smoking, and her parents even said that she used to waft her hands around when people smoked. Then she changed schools and didn’t have a network of friends. She thinks that it was because of peer pressure that she started smoking. Eventually she just thought ‘do you know, it doesn’t matter, who cares, I’m never going to die, it’s never going to be a problem’. For a while she smoked only at weekends and then realised she was smoking ten cigarettes a day. When she left school she lived with people who smoked. She says that to have a cigarette was an ‘automatic reaction’ when she was stressed and it always calmed her down. When she bought a house, and friends moved in, she says ‘everyone came round, had parties, got drunk, smoked, it was just constant, all the time’.

Laura’s friends were always trying to give up smoking and having failed attempts. She never tried to stop, but when she decided to, she did so quietly. She didn’t say ‘I’m going to quit smoking’, she just said that she didn’t want to smoke anymore. This was a week after she had split with her partner. She joined the gym to ‘get this boy out of her head’. She didn’t want to go down the pub - where he might be - and didn’t want to hang around her other friends who were mainly in relationships, so she went down the gym every day to give her ‘another thing’. She says that her ex was always trying to quit, and she did it easily, so it was a ‘finger up to him’. She says that this health kick ‘wasn’t really about being healthy, it was just a good side-effect of it’. Laura actually gave up drinking for a while as ‘back then’ people were smoking in the pub, and the temptation to smoke would be there. One of her friends even tried to tempt her to smoke again.

About a year after having stopped smoking, Laura went to a ‘works do’ with a new partner. She was careful not to drink too much, but found that another woman was dancing with her new partner, so she went into another room to smoke a cigarette. Her new partner immediately came to find her and found that she was about to smoke. He was shocked, saying that he couldn’t go out with anyone who smoked. She is now married to him so smoking is now ‘not an option’. She says that she is so glad that she gave up smoking before she had children. Laura finds that the only temptations since she gave up are when she has been on hen weekends where everyone is drinking and smoking. Laura did get bronchitis about three weeks after giving up and the doctor said it was ‘as a result of giving up smoking’.

Laura celebrated giving up by having her teeth whitened. She says that now in the village where she lives nobody knows that she used to smoke. She says that when she was a smoker she didn’t keep it a secret as such, but she was aware that it ‘looked bad’ and added, ‘So from the point of view of work I wanted to be ambitious, career driven and all of that and being a smoker doesn’t equal that same thing, I don’t think, and that’s not my image at work’. She also never used to smoke before going to the doctor. She is glad that she gave up before she was pregnant, as she doesn’t want her children to smoke, and thinks she has ‘more of a leg to stand on’. She sees young girls smoke now and thinks that they look ‘less beautiful’ when they smoke and that it looks bad. She says that people have to give up because they don’t want to smoke anymore, rather than because they want to save money. She says that you have to make ‘big changes in your life’ as when you give up you realise smoking has become such a routine thing. She didn’t tell anyone she was giving up so there was no pressure. It ‘wouldn’t have crossed her mind’ to talk about it with a doctor.


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