Lorraine had her last cigarette on 14 March 2011 and has been proud to be a quitter ever since. “I don’t miss it”, she said, “I see people smoking and it sounds terrible but I just feel sad for them”.

Born in Liverpool and brought up in Birmingham, Lorraine was never tempted to smoke at school although lots of friends were smokers. “I used to look at them practising so they could do it properly and I just thought it was funny!” said Lorraine.

I used to feel almost superior as a non-smoker and I never would have been able to anyway as my dad was very strict and as an ex-smoker himself he was really against it
Smoking was very popular and it was just around me everywhere so I started thinking about it more

Lorraine moved to London, to Camden initially, with her partner and young children when she was in her twenties. She worked as an artist and clothes designer and she made and sold clothes in Camden Market. It was here that the thought of smoking began to have some allure.

Smoking was very popular and it was just around me everywhere so I started thinking about it more

It was a little later that Lorraine tried her first cigarette. Her first memory of smoking is whilst on holiday with her children in France.

I was feeling quite stressed with the children running around and I saw this woman smoking and she just looked so calm and relaxed that I decided to give it a try

Lorraine moved to Hackney in the 1980s and continued smoking socially. After her children left home she gradually transitioned into being a 20 per day smoker. She has attempted to quit once before, at a group clinic, but found that this setting was not quite right for her.

I felt like I was saying what people wanted to hear, and that I had to try to impress the other group members. I just didn’t feel like I could be myself. I still missed the smoking so I allowed myself to have just one. It built from there and soon I was smoking again

About a year later, a conversation with her daughter prompted Lorraine to attempt to quit again. “I used to look after my grandson two days a week and I wouldn’t smoke when I was with him, but when I dropped him off at my daughter’s house she would tell me she could still smell smoke on me. The smell of smoke was just engrained in me and I realised that it was really quite serious. I didn’t want to be subjecting my children and grandchildren to this”.

Lorraine spoke to a stop smoking advisor at a stall in Kingsland Shopping Centre in Dalston and signed up to join the service immediately.

The experience of having a one to one session with an advisor just worked for me and was so different from the group sessions. Fred, my advisor was non-judgemental and very practical and most importantly she never emphasised that I had a problem. I really felt like I had support and I enjoyed coming to sessions. I was always excited to come in and tell her that I hadn’t had a cigarette and she was always genuinely happy for me too. I felt like someone was on my side

Lorraine also benefitted from the motivational tools she picked up in sessions. “I had a calendar showing the days I had been smoke free and at the end of each day without a cigarette, I would tick another one off. That really helped me to stay motivated and I could see how far I had come. I also counted how much money I had saved at the end of each day without a cigarette and that made me realise how much money I had been throwing away over the years.”

Since giving up smoking, Lorraine has noticed a difference in both her health and her bank balance.

I didn’t realise at the time, but my lungs were really bad. I have friends who still smoke and when I talk to them on the phone they’re constantly coughing and spluttering. My children tell me that that’s what I used to sound like and now I don’t get those symptoms at all

Lorraine has also made other lifestyle changes since giving up smoking. “I started walking more to keep myself busy and I really enjoyed that, so now I’m exercising regularly. I also started eating more healthily. As I’ve got older, I‘ve realised that I want to live as long as possible, and I also want my older years to be healthy ones so it’s important to be looking after myself now”.

Lorraine feels that the key to her success in giving up smoking was her mindset. “I was just determined not to smoke. As a smoker I felt terrible, why would I want to keep putting myself through that?”

Her advice to anyone who is finding it difficult to kick the habit is:

Never give up giving up. Keep yourself busy by taking up a new hobby, or getting into exercise, and spend the money you’re saving on doing things you’ve always wanted to do to keep you occupied

Quitting can make improvements to your lifestyle and health in ways you might not expect.

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