Hackney resident Brian Toomey stopped smoking in January 2015. He made it a new year’s resolution following 16 years of smoking and two previous quit attempts.

The 32 year old graphic designer explained why his previous quit attempts failed, “I stopped smoking for about eight months once but I started again. Social environments like pubs and clubs are my biggest trigger, especially as some of my friends are smokers so temptation is there. It’s all too easy to think you can have ‘just have the one’ cigarette and before you know it you’re smoking regularly again”.

I would convince myself that I didn’t need to give up because I didn’t smoke as much as other people, but after sixteen years of smoking I started to really feel unhealthy. After a big night out my lungs would feel terrible in the morning. As I got older, the health risks became more of a concern.

Brian had been a relatively moderate smoker, of around 2-5 cigarettes per day and more at the weekend.

He quit with the help of Hackney’s Stop Smoking Service, after his GP at the Lower Clapton practice referred him to the service. He had two sessions with a specialist stop smoking adviser who helped him identify his triggers and ways of managing them. He was also given nicotine patches to deal with cravings, which was particularly helpful when he was around smokers. He said “I went out with friends the first week I quit and was surrounded by smokers. It wasn’t easy, but I didn’t smoke and it felt really good”.

The stop smoking service continues to send Brian texts with tips and encouragement to stick with it, and two months on he is still smokefree. He can already feel the benefits of a life without cigarettes; “I feel healthier, my breathing has improved and I’m a bit richer” he said.

Brian’s advice to other smokers is “don’t fall at the first hurdle, take it a day at a time and use a stop smoking service, they can really help you”.


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