Giving up smoking


Age at interview: 40

Brief outline: Raf, 40, gave up smoking three months ago. He is British Pakistani, currently unemployed and lives with his wife and four children. Raf started smoking on a trip to Pakistan when he was a teenager. He ended up smoking up to 30 cigarettes a day before he started trying to quit. Raf has now quit for 3 months with the help of varenicline and hasn’t wanted a cigarette since.

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Raf started smoking at the age of 16 when he went to Pakistan with his family. His friends were surprised that he had started as he used to try and convince them to stop. He went from having the ‘odd few’ to later smoking 10 a day, then 20, then 30. Raf tried smoking Silk Cut as he thought it would help him stop, but he said that he just ended up smoking more. At first he didn’t tell his family that he smoked, out of ‘respect and fear’. Later he felt that ‘more responsibilities kicked in’ and said that he felt the impact of smoking on his wallet. Raf’s wife used to nag him about smoking and saying that it smelt around the house. Raf used to work as a taxi driver and said that, even though he wasn’t allowed to smoke in the cab, he used to find lots of opportunities to smoke when he was waiting around. At the time, he thought that the smoking ban was a ‘waste of time’, but now he sees it differently. He has stopped twice: once for two months and the second time around three months ago. However, the first time he ‘fell back into it’ because of tragedies in the family.

Raf has been diabetic since the age of nine and has Type I insulin-dependent diabetes. At the hospital he would always be urged to give up smoking by his consultant, but he never paid any attention. Then eventually he started thinking about quitting ‘a lot more’.

The first time he quit, he relied on ‘willpower’ and every time he felt like smoking he would chew some chewing gum and keep himself ‘occupied’. However, towards the end of a three-month period, his grandfather passed away and the ‘easiest thing’ to ‘fall back on’ was a cigarette. Then he said he was back to ‘square one’.

Raf had tried nicotine replacement patches and gum before, but found they didn’t really help. He registered with a ‘stop smoking’ clinic as there was a seven-month waiting list at his surgery. Raf phoned the NHS ‘stop smoking’ line and found a support group through which he could be prescribed varenicline (Champix). Now he says that smoking is the ‘last thing on his mind’ and he has only smoked three cigarettes since stopping smoking. He finds that smoking now makes him feel sick, and thinks that taking Varenicline may help a lot of other people. Now he has saved an average of £60 a week and he has put that money elsewhere, such as for gifts for his kids. He says that there have been only positives to giving up, and there haven’t been any negatives.


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