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Having smoked since the age of 13, Charlotte Harding, author of Welsh Mummy Blogs is finally smoke-free after her second attempt at quitting. To mark No Smoking Day 2019 we asked her to tell us her story.

Growing up I always thought smoking was cool. The popular kids at school, the heartthrobs in movies and the lead singer of my favourite band, all smoked. I used to think smoking can’t be that bad.

I was around 13 years old when I smoked my first cigarette. At first I was a social smoker, I only smoked when I had the money or if was going out with my friends. I used to hide cigarettes from my mum, I’d use body sprays and hand creams to hide the smell of smoke. I don’t think this worked, I am pretty sure she suspected I was a smoker.

At 16 years old I was smoking full time, I was working so could fund my habit. Without the worry of money or my parents finding out, I found my 10 a day habit quickly turned into 20 a day.

By the time I was 23 I was smoking 40+ cigarettes a day! This was becoming expensive and it started to play on my health.

I had never suffered from any respiratory problems growing up but at 24 I was diagnosed with asthma. I truly believe this had something to do with my heavy smoking.

I knew I had to do something about my habit. The problem was, I really enjoyed smoking!!

At first I attempted to quit on my own. My quit day would always be a Monday (start of the week) I would go cold turkey, drive everyone insane for days with my mood swings from withdrawal and then end up smoking by the Friday.

I tried this method on and off for months, It was clearly not working.

I went to see the GP, he said he was happy to prescribe me nicotine replacement if I contacted Stop Smoking Wales.

Contacting Stop Smoking Wales was simple. I called up the phone number on a card I was given and then gave the telephone staff my details. Stop Smoking Wales offered me group support straight away.

I explained I have a mental illness and some days I am not well and therefore a group appointment would be a little difficult. The telephone staff said that I could go on a waiting list for telephone support or I had the option of one to one appointments. I took them up on the offer of one to one support.

At my first appointment I was a little nervous. I had to breathe into a little machine which recorded the amount of carbon monoxide that was in me. Carbon Monoxide is not a good thing.

My carbon monoxide level was at the maximum the machine could reach! I was informed that I was a heavy smoker and I may need two different methods of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to help me quit.

After a long chat about the different types of NRT I decided on the nicotine patch and a quick mist mouth spray. This combination sounded perfect, a 25mg 16 hour patch to wear everyday and a quick mist mouth spray that would stop cravings in as little as 30 seconds!

I left my first appointment with an NRT script for my GP. I was feeling confident and ready to tackle my unhealthy habit. It was reassuring to know that I had 12 weeks of support and that I could contact Stop Smoking Wales whenever I needed to.

I am not going to lie, at first it was extremely difficult to give up. I kept thinking this will be my last cigarette but it never was. I went back to my stop smoking appointment two weeks later. I did the weekly carbon monoxide test and although it had come down drastically, it was still showing that I was a smoker.

My smoking support worker said it was to be expected, I was a heavy smoker so it was not going to be easy. The support worker said that I needed to make my quit date and stick to it.

There was no time like the present, I decided to quit the following day. I gave up and lived smoke free for 4 years.

Last year, I had a decline in my mental health and some unavoidable stress. With this, I went back to my old habit. I hated that I was smoking again after so many years smoke free.

I contacted Stop Smoking Wales who were very happy to help me a second time. I used the same methods of NRT and I gave up smoking by my second appointment.

I am now off NRT and living an awesome smoke free life.

I don’t think I would of been able to do it without the support of Stop Smoking Wales. They have been amazing over the years.

Benefits of me giving up smoking:

• I have more money
• I do not need my asthma pump
• I can run without getting out of breath
• I have more time for my kids or to clean the house!
• I don’t smell like an ashtray
• I don’t dread long public transport journeys
• I can exercise for longer
• My skin looks more youthful
• My teeth are whiter
• My food tastes great
• I have more energy
• I don’t have to go outside in all weathers to smoke

I recommend that everyone should at least try to give up smoking. It’s a great feeling to live without the cravings and you will find you have more money and more time living smoke free.

Please note – I gradually stepped down nicotine strengths of patches and then came off NRT. Do not come off it quickly as you could be tempted to smoke again.

Written by Welsh Mummy Blogs 

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