Giving up smoking


Age at interview: 48

Brief outline: Miles, 48, gave up smoking when he was 28. He is White British, works as a solicitor and is married with two children. Miles started smoking with his friends down the pub when he was 17. Later he smoked more when he trained to be a solicitor to cope with the stress. Miles gave up when he met his wife as she was against smoking. Now his son has a chest condition and he finds he is much more conscious of people smoking.

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Miles started smoking when he was about 17-18, and thinks it was due to peer pressure. He thinks that nobody ‘enjoys their first cigarette’. All his friends had started smoking and he thought it looked quite cool. Miles says that he ‘went around’ with a ‘smoking bunch’ and you would almost be ‘laughed at’ if you didn’t smoke. The ‘coolest person’ in their group of friends smoked. Miles thought to have a ‘pint in your hand and a cigarette in the other’ was the ‘done thing’. He says they thought they were ‘immortal’ and they continued smoking until it ‘formed… a habit’. He says that he would have never smoked in front of his mother as despite the fact she smoked she ‘frowned upon her children smoking’. He only smoked in front of her much later in life. Miles remembers that his mother found a packet of cigarettes in his pocket and he felt ‘quite ashamed’. He remembers that he found women who smoked unattractive which he now thinks was ‘double standards’. In his early twenties he tried to give up, as he didn’t like the ‘stains on his fingers’. One of the difficulties for him was that there was always ‘smoking at a particular time in your social life’ and found he found it really difficult to avoid when he was down the pub. At the age of 23 he got his first job as a solicitor, and he felt that smoking relieved some of the stress of his new job - he thinks this reaction ‘exacerbated the habit’. Nowadays he finds it strange that smoking was allowed in offices, and remembers his boss having a ‘yellow ceiling’. He thinks that there wasn’t so much talk about passive smoking back then. He says he didn’t fully appreciate the financial cost of smoking at the time. Miles continued smoking into his mid to late twenties, and it wasn’t really until he met his now wife that he seriously thought about stopping. He says that it was ‘love at first sight’. He soon realised that it was ‘smoking or her’ as she came from a ‘very non-smoking family’ and was a nurse.

His partner identified that he was an asthmatic and said that he should give up. He went ‘cold turkey’ and ‘fell off the wagon’ a few times, but never bought a cigarette again. He had developed a bit of a cough at the time, but didn’t put it down to smoking. He says his motive for giving up was love, and was quite excited about the process of giving up; he thinks that the timing of the attempt was ‘perfect’. He remembers it wasn’t ‘too difficult’ because he was so happy at the time. When he gave up, he gained a ‘few extra pounds’ in the process. He says he may have had the ‘odd cigar’ when he had had a few drinks, but eventually gave them up as well. Later his son was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis – a hereditary chest condition – and as a consequence nobody could smoke in front of him. Miles was told that he couldn’t even smoke away from his son as he mustn’t have the smell on his clothes. Miles is now developing his own chest problems and as he says he a mild variation of it of the cystic fibrosis gene. His lung function has dropped to 40% and he feels that this is a ‘bit worrying’.

In his work at the Citizens Advice Bureau, he has found that his clients have financial problems as a result of smoking, and this has hardened his hatred of smoking. Now he says that by 1990 he found that the trend was to give up and to show ‘good your will power was’. He has noticed that a large proportion of his clients smoke, whereas he admits he is now quite surprised if he sees a middle-class person smoking. He would find it very difficult to eat when someone was smoking and has become more conscious of people smoking because of his son’s condition.


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