Natalie Bollard had wanted to give up smoking for some time. But no amount of health warnings could force her to kick the habit for good.
Then she found out she was pregnant and it was no longer just her health she had to consider.
That’s when the 22-year-old decided to say ‘no’ to smoking and gave up her decade-long habit.
‘It wasn’t easy,’ says Natalie of Trinity Green, Gosport.
‘But I stuck to it and won’t be going back. I had wanted to give up for a while. I knew it was bad for my health but you just think “oh well, it’s my health.” It also cost a lot of money and that was another major reason I wanted to give up as well.
‘But then I found out I was pregnant, and knew it could affect the baby, so it was the perfect time to give up. My midwife said I had the choice to as some women do carry on. But I didn’t want to risk my baby’s health.’
Natalie first took up smoking when she was just 12. Like many people, it became a habit that was hard to kick and she found herself smoking 30-40 roll-up cigarettes a day.
She found out she was pregnant when she was seven weeks gone and by 12 weeks, had properly given up smoking.
She says: ‘It was really hard giving up and I did have the odd slip up here and there. But every time I did slip up and smoked I would feel really guilty. My last cigarette would have been last July.’
She adds: ‘I’ve saved so much money since giving up. Money I spent on tobacco I can now spend on my baby.
‘I also feel so much better since giving up. It wasn’t that I was ill or feeling really bad before, but I’ve noticed since giving up that I feel fantastic. I feel healthier.’
Natalie, who gave birth to her son Lennox five weeks ago, didn’t kick her smoking habit alone.
In fact, she says the help and support she had from Quit4Life – the Hampshire NHS stop smoking service – is the reason she has remained smoke-free.
‘I went to Quit4Life sessions every week which really helped,’ she says. ‘I’d recommend them to anyone trying to give up smoking.
‘I had a one-to-one meting and talked about how I was getting on and did a carbon monoxide test. That can tell if you’ve smoked in the last week, so you can’t lie and say you haven’t.
‘But even if you have slipped up and smoked, they don’t judge you.
‘The sessions gave me moral support and kept me motivated.
‘I went along for six months. They also gave me nicotine patches and an inhalator to help me not smoke.
‘I’ve finished the sessions now but will pop in and see them when I need some more patches. I have them around the house still just in case, because sometimes I do still have cravings.’
National No Smoking Day is on Wednesday March 9 and is designed to motivate people to give up – and the NHS is keen to help.
The Quit4Life Hampshire stop smoking service and Pompey Quit smoking service in Portsmouth both offer support and help to quit and remain smoke-free.
And statistics show that you are actually four times more likely to quit smoking with their support.
Wendy Bennett, one of the managers of Quit4Life Hampshire, says: ‘You are definitely more likely to quit and stay smoke-free with help. We offer a range of services and support. We have support sessions and telephone support, plus we also give free nicotine replacement therapy aids such as patches, gum and lozenges, for six weeks.’
She adds: ‘Ultimately you have to really want to give up smoking. If you don’t really want to, it will be harder. If someone else tells you have to do something, you won’t want to do it, it’s human nature.
‘Everyone will give up for different reasons but the benefits will be that it’s better for your health and it will save money. And if you need help and support to do it, we’re here to help.’
LIAM O’Malley won’t lie – giving up smoking was hard to do. But now the dad-of-two has done it, he wouldn’t look back.
Having been a smoker for almost four decades, smoking had become a long-term addiction.
But Liam, of Soberton Road, Havant, decided to kick the habit in January this year for various reasons.
‘I mainly wanted to give up because of my young boys, I didn’t want to be smoking around them any more,’ says Liam, 51.
‘I was also waking up every morning coughing and wasn’t feeling that great.
‘I’ve always thought it was a disgusting habit and wanted to give up and thought now was the time to do it.’
Knowing it would be a hard task, Liam decided not to go it alone.
He signed up to the Quit4Life stop smoking service and got help and advice through meetings. He also got free nicotine replacement therapy.
He used nicotine patches, which release nicotine into the body through the skin. And he used a nicotine inhalator, or inhaler, which is a plastic cigarette shaped device which consists of a mouthpiece and a nicotine cartridge, which allows you to suck in and inhale the nicotine.
The stop smoking aids and support from an NHS advisor, helped Liam kick his habit.
He says: ‘It did help me to give up and more so to not pick it back up again.’
GAVIN Robinson had been a smoker for most of his life.
From the age of 12, he started the habit and since he was 16 he’d been smoking at least 20 cigarettes a day.
But when his health started to suffer, he decided enough was enough.
‘I wasn’t feeling that great and had had a cough for a year. I sounded like an old car engine at times,’ says the 42-year-old.
‘I was feeling unfit and it really started to drag me down.’
So on New Year’s Eve Gavin, of Nelson Avenue, North End, had his last cigarette – and he has not looked back since.
‘I feel so good now,’ he says. ‘My cough went within days and after about 10 days I’d joined the gym and now I’m addicted. I go twice a day sometimes. I’m so glad I gave up smoking.’
Gavin, a consultant in the construction industry, had help to kick his habit.
‘I had made a few feeble attempts to give up before, but had started smoking again,’ he says.
‘But when I decided I was going to give up this time, I went to my local pharmacy to get some nicotine patches, That’s when I found out about the stop smoking service and signed up.’
Gavin went to weekly stop smoking meetings with an advisor at City Pharmacy in London Road, North End. He also used patches and an inhalator in the early days.
He says: ‘I found it annoyingly easy to give up. It does require willpower but it gets easier every day.’
HOW TO GET HELP
If you want help to quit smoking, contact the NHS stop smoking service in your area.
For anyone living in Portsmouth, call Pompey Quit on (023) 9236 9234 or visit pompeyquit.com.
Hampshire residents can contact the county’s Quit4Life stop smoking service on 0845 602 4663 or go to quit4life.nhs.uk.
The stop smoking services offer free nicotine replacement therapy, such as patches and gum for up to six weeks.
Quit4Life has two public events next week people can go along to if there are interested in finding out more about quitting smoking and getting advice as to how to do it. The events will take place on:
n Tuesday, March 8, at Asda in Gosport, from 10am to 2pm.
n Wednesday, March 9, at Fareham Shopping Centre, from 10am to 3pm.
Pompey Quit will be holding a No Smoking Day event on Wednesday, March 9, at the John Pounds Centre in Portsmouth, from 8.30am to 11.30am.