Markus Wilson successfully quit in June 2015 after more than 10 years of smoking. Markus had tried to stop smoking many times, but found the cravings too hard to deal with.

I just didn’t have the willpower. I went through bouts of wanting to quit and I would go cold turkey for a couple of days but then the cravings would get too much for me and I would give in and it would just be that cycle, endlessly that cycle, again and again, until I turned up here.

Markus started smoking as a teenager; “I was just being a kid at school, everyone tries it, all the cool kids are doing it and I thought I was a cool kid” and continued into adulthood; “it was literally that whole teenage peer pressure and I never got out of it”.

Markus managed to successfully quit for about a year when he was 23, but a relationship with a heavy smoker lead him to slowly creep back into the habit. He has been trying to quit ever since.

The journey to becoming smoke free

After many months of wanting desperately to quit, Markus came across Hackney’s Stop Smoking Service whilst talking to an advisor at the HBV Enterprise Centre on Dalston Lane about a business loan. “I had seen posters and logos around and it just sort of aligned for me because I had been wanting to quit, trying to quit for ages”. He was told that he could attend a drop in clinic to speak to a stop smoking advisor and decided that he had to do it. “I thought right, I’m going to do it, there’s no harm in dropping in and having a quick chat”. From that day onwards, he hasn’t looked back.

It’s actually shown me that you’re not a strong guy for doing something on your own, you’re a strong, courageous person for admitting that you need to go and get support.

Markus found that the support of a stop smoking advisor made a massive difference to him throughout the process of quitting. “It was so easy doing it with Marie and Diana. Before, I kept hitting a brick wall because I was doing it on my own, but this time I literally felt like I wasn’t on my own at any point”.  He feels proud to have realised that he needed to get help to quit smoking.

Markus had not tried using medication to help him quit before, thinking that it wouldn’t work for him, but this time he tried it. He found that “the medication was huge for me. When the cravings were really bad I would just have some gum or have my inhaler and it would sort the cravings out and then I could just move on”. With time, he was able to phase out the medication; “eventually the cravings just stopped so I stopped using the medication”.

Feeling healthier

I used to have coughing fits and everything. Now I feel much better, I’ve got much more energy as well. Before, the first thing I would want in the morning would be a cigarette and that would be my first battle. Now my first thought is more optimistic really, like going for a run.

Markus sees quitting smoking as a lifestyle change, and has tried to incorporate quitting into having a healthier outlook to life. He says that quitting has made him see that, “success breeds success, it just builds and builds and builds and I can say that’s all from quitting smoking”.

Markus says that he feels “1000 percent” better.

His advice to others

Markus’ main piece of advice to smokers who are trying to quit is to “reward yourself” with small treats, especially when you have got to the end of a really tough day without having a cigarette, having a treat celebrates what you’ve achieved. He also found it helpful to replace the cigarette with something positive; “I dealt with my cravings by breaking the routine and by replacing a cigarette with something healthy that would make me feel good, like going for a run, or eating an apple.”

Markus has had a really positive experience with the help Hackney’s Stop Smoking Service and he had some nice words to say about the team who supported him:

If I hear of anyone who is quitting I recommend the service and say for me it really, really helped. I would like to say a big, big thank you to Marie and everyone in the team. It’s such an important service and it’s so nice and reassuring to know that they are there to help.

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

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