Giving up smoking


Age at interview: 37

Brief outline: Tamsin (also referred to as Tam), 37, gave up smoking aged 35. Tamsin is White British and works in a factory. She lives with her husband, has one child and is currently 7 months pregnant. She gave up during her first pregnancy. Tamsin was 15 when she had her first cigarette and used to smoke in the toilets at school. Over the years she had many attempts to give up but finally succeeded when she found out she was pregnant. Although it was hard, she is now very pleased she has given up and is pregnant with her second child.

Audio & video

Tam was 15 when she had her first cigarette. Before this, she remembers flicking through magazines and finding adverts for the various cigarette brands she thought she might want to smoke. Looking back, she doesn’t know why she started smoking, and remembers that most of her friends actually didn’t smoke. She stole one of her Dad’s cigarettes and smoked in the toilets with some people she knew at school. After this at college she smoked roll ups because of the cost. She can remember offering to make the tea a lot whilst doing her Saturday job so she could have cigarette breaks. Tam can’t remember at what point she was actually ‘addicted’. She used to pretend to her parents that she smelt of smoke as she had been down the pub, but her Mum eventually found out and ‘went mad’. Sometimes she says she over-did it and had ‘raisin lung’ in the morning - in which her chest was painful. Later she found that smoking was always a good way of making friends, particularly when she went travelling in the States.

About ten years ago, she found she wasn’t happy with her job or her weight and wanted to make some changes. She would have ‘moments’ of trying to give up smoking. Then, when she met her current partner, she tried to give up again but failed. Tam talks about getting to a point in her life at which she thought she might not be able to ‘get away with’ smoking for much longer. She and her partner tried to give up together, but she found out her partner had a ‘few sneaky ones’ without telling her.

Tam actually started smoking again on the night the smoking ban was introduced ‘out of principle’ and found that she fell off the wagon at various other times whilst at the pub. She tried nicotine replacement patches and found they did help. She didn’t like the nicotine replacement gum and thinks it was ‘foul’. Tam tried to give up again after a bike accident, as she couldn’t walk to the shop. She found that because she had to walk for her rehabilitation she also didn’t put on any weight despite giving up smoking. On her honeymoon she found that she was able to walk up mountains and did not get as out-of-breath as she thought she would. She thought she had it ‘cracked’ as she even had a drink and didn’t end up smoking. However they had a ‘scare’ on holiday and she ended up smoking. Then when she came back from honeymoon she had a shut-out at the factory she worked at, and the boredom made her smoke more. She kept smoking, thinking ‘I’ll give up when I get pregnant’. When she discovered she was pregnant, she immediately went from smoking 15-20 a day down to a couple as it took two or three days to ‘get her head around it’. She tried to change her mindset, and knew that she would ‘get grief’ from her sister and mother if she smoked. Tam says that some days it was fine and other days it was ‘bloody awful’. She gave up drinking as well because she knew that would make her want a cigarette more. Now, nearly two years later, she thinks that she can’t afford to start again and would get the grief from her family if she did.

Most of her friends have given up now. As a non-smoker she is glad that the smoking ban came into effect, but she still doesn’t know how she feels about it overall. Tam feels like a ‘non-smoker’ now and classes herself as such on medical forms. Her message to others is that you have to fight it, and that if you need to eat, eat and deal with the consequences in a year when you’ve already given up.


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