Giving up smoking


Age at interview: 54

Brief outline: Munir, 54, gave up smoking at 51. Munir is British Pakistani, works in the media and lives with his wife. He has five children. Munir started smoking with friends at 13-14. He soon became addicted and smoked 10-15 a day for 37 years. Munir gave up using Varenicline and with the support of a smoking cessation nurse. He had two blocked arteries and is grateful he gave up smoking before this incident.

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Munir started smoking with some of his friends when he was about 13-14 years of age. In total, he smoked for 37 years. He remembers how when he was a child he could just go to a shop and buy a couple of cigarettes. He only smoked 10-15 a day, which at the time he didn’t think was that harmful. Munir only once smoked in front of his father as he says that it is his custom out of ‘respect of his elders’ not to smoke in front of them. Like a lot of people, he found that he smoked more when he had a ‘bit of tension’. Munir used to enjoy a cigarette most with a cup of tea or after a meal and he didn’t realise how easy it was to get addicted.

Munir used to think it was strange that he would wash in the morning, then put deodorant and aftershave on, and then have a cigarette. He says that the smoking ban didn’t really affect him, as he was ‘out and about’ with his job in any case. During Ramadan he didn’t smoke during daylight hours, and thought that logically that if he could spend 18 hours without a cigarette then he could give up. He didn’t pay that much attention to public health messages as he didn’t think something would happen to him and felt he didn’t smoke that much.

Munir’s first attempt at quitting was after he smoked once in front of his dad and felt ashamed. He gave up for a couple of months whilst he was in Pakistan, then just thought he’d have ‘one’ and found he had started again. When he returned to the UK his friends were all smoking, so he started again. Munir tried to give up three or four times with nicotine replacement patches, but would start again after he had stopped using the patches. He used to give up for a few weeks and then start again. The decision to finally give up came when he was starting to wake up with ‘a mouth full of slime’ that made him throw up and feel ‘really bad’. Eventually he found a nurse at the GP’s surgery who was very helpful. His son and wife wanted to help him give up also. Munir talks about the fact that his wife had cancer and that he wanted to think more about health issues in general. He says that giving up smoking was his way of saying ‘I care for you’ for his wife, as she didn’t like the smell and used to worry about it. After quitting he says that his appetite increased and that he has gained a bit of weight, but that he also has more energy. He finds that he is not so out of breath anymore and that he loves food now, whereas before eating was ‘just filling [himself] up’.

In the end he had some varenicline (Champix) tablets from his GP’s practice and found that after the 5th or 6th day he ‘just couldn’t smoke’ although he also couldn’t sleep at night. The nurse told him to ‘hang on’ and gave him a lot of support and motivation. He found that giving up was about willpower, the motivation that his family provided, and Varenicline.

After he had given up, Munir had a problem with two blocked arteries, and is now ‘so grateful’ that he gave up smoking beforehand, as he feels it could have been a lot more serious. He remembers that he had had some samosas with friends one night, had ‘a bit of heartburn’ and woke up about midnight to take some Gaviscon. At 3 o’clock he experienced severe pain. He asked his wife to give him some Asian herbal remedies for heartburn but it was still getting worse. Eventually he crawled down the stairs and went to call for an ambulance and the phone fell out of his hand. Later he was pleased to tell the doctor in hospital that he had already given up smoking.

Now that he has quit smoking he finds that he has £30-40 more in his wallet by the end of the week. His wife is even pleased that she doesn’t have to clean the chandelier in the living room and his son is really delighted he doesn’t smoke anymore. Munir says that there are no negative effects of giving up smoking, only benefits.


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