Tom is a ground work contractor from South Bucks. He is married with four children aged between 4 and 12 years old.
How did you start smoking?
I smoked socially as a teenager with my mates, down the pub with everyone else, in those days you could. Then when I was 21, I started smoking a lot more with my girlfriend of the time. I was smoking at least 20 a day, sometimes more.
I had thought about stopping smoking a few times, my family would say things especially as I was the only one left still smoking. I knew I should, but I just didn’t feel ready.
Why did you decide to stop?
Well, for the kids really, I didn’t like the smell of it when I was around them and it is very smelly. I felt my chest was getting tight and I was coughing a lot more. The expense was getting to me too. I suppose I was more aware of my health in the future and wanting to be around to see the kids grow up.
How did you find out about BSSS?
Some of my family had used the service and so I called them up and booked a first meeting. We had a chat about my smoking and what gum and sprays and other nicotine things I could use to help me stop and not get too stressed. The smoking counsellor gave me some leaflets to read and we agreed to talk on the ‘phone every week as I work long hours all over the place.
How did you quit?
I read the leaflets and tried a few different nicotine gums, lozenges and sprays until I found a 2mg minty gum that was OK, I got that from the counsellor and then I bought a mouth spray which I thought was really good for the cravings and was instant. I would use that mostly in the mornings then use gum to keep me going for the rest of the day. I stopped using the spray after a few months but carried on with the gum until I used it less and less. It’s funny as after a while, when I got home, I didn’t seem to need anything!
My cravings were really bad for the first 2 weeks, they lasted about 6 weeks then they started to ease off, by then I was just using 8 mints a day.
How have your family responded to you giving up smoking?
Yes, they’re all really pleased and say I don’t smell anymore! Yes, they’re happy I gave up. My mates I work with said “That’s good mate”, One said “You should of done that 10 years ago!” On site there are lots of smokers around me but I seem to be OK and manage to cope.
How has quitting improved your life?
Coughing and my tight chest improved after a few days, I used to have a coughing fit in the mornings. I’m thinking about getting back into football, if my knees will take it! I’m looking forward to exercising and that will probably help to clear my lungs.
Money – well I’ve already saved about £750.00 in three months
What is the best thing about being smokefree?
Feel better; I don’t have to avoid the kids after having a cigarette, like putting my youngest to bed, now I only smell of diesel not fags and diesel!
I have a happier outlook on my future and knowing I’ve reduced the chance of serious illnesses especially since my dad has COPD and seeing the effect that has had in his life.
Another benefit was my taste and smell has come back, I can smell everything, I kept saying about the dog making the house smell!
What advice would you give to others wanting to quit smoking?
“Well I tried out the different NRT’s and cut down a bit first, to give myself a chance to find out what suited me before I actually gave up, so preparing myself for the quit date. For me I needed the mouth spray and mints, especially as the mints melted when I had my coffee! Everyone is different and you have to find out what suits you best, keep in touch with your counsellor as they do help to keep you motivated along the way. Think ahead!”