Stoptober: Leigh Park grandmother who gave up smoking after 30 years urges others to do the same
A LEIGH Park grandmother who was finally able to give up smoking after 30 years has urged others to seek NHS support saying she ‘wouldn’t have done it without them.’
50-year-old Elizabeth Austin had been smoking since she was 12 and ‘never thought’ she could quit.
Initially she just used to smoke whenever she could get a cigarette from her dad but as she got older she smoked around 20 a day, using it as a way to cope with stress when her mother died as well as the fact that five out of her six children were diagnosed with special needs.
‘It really was an addiction,’ she said.
‘I used it as a way to help when I was really stressed.
‘I had tried to quit many times but I had always failed, I couldn’t do it.’
Earlier this year Elizabeth, who is a full time carer to one of her sons, decided to try to quit ‘for good.’
She contacted the Smokefree Hampshire NHS service, which set her up with a plan to give up including the use of Champix tablets and a weekly - and later fortnightly - phone check up.
By June this year she achieved what she had thought was the impossible.
She said: ‘I stuck to the plan from Smokefree. In the first two weeks I took Champix tablets but then in the third week there was a national shortage so I had to go cold turkey and it worked.
‘I never thought I would be able to do it. I’ve had some blips since then where I’ve smoked the odd cigarette but I don’t let that get in the way.
‘I tell myself tomorrow is a new day and to keep going.’
She added: ‘Smoking never really caused me any problems with breathing but the main thing I’ve noticed is my taste has come back.
‘I used to pile on loads of HP sauce but now I only need a tiny bit because the smoking took my taste away so much.’
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In line with the national Stoptober campaign Elizabeth hopes other people can have the same success as her.
‘If anyone is struggling to quit I’d recommend they seek NHS support,’ she said.
‘It will make all the difference.’
Rise in smoking since the pandemic ‘worrying’
HEALTH experts are calling on smokers across Hampshire to join the more than two million people who have quit since the Stoptober movement launched a decade ago.
Since Stoptober first ran smoking rates in Portsmouth have fallen from 24.7 per cent of adults to 16.4 per cent in 2019.
And in the Hampshire County Council area this reduced from from 16.9 per cent in 2011 to 10 per cent in 2019.
However, according to the Department of Health and Social Care more than six million adults in England still smoke, causing almost 75,000 preventable deaths a year.
Jason Mahoney, tobacco programme lead for Public Health England south east, said: ‘Stoptober has been hugely successful in helping smokers to quit since its launch 10 years ago. There are two million fewer smokers in England today than there were 10 years ago, and at the same time we have seen a significant downward trend in smoking rates across Kent and Medway.
‘The rise in smoking among the under-35s since the coronavirus pandemic, up from 18 per cent in 2019 to 24 per cent now, is worrying and shows the importance of campaigns such as Stoptober in helping people up and down the country to take the decision to quit.
‘Campaigns like Stoptober, which provides support to smokers, have proven to be enormously helpful in encouraging people to quit and maintaining motivation. Quitting smoking will not only immediately improve your physical health but also your bank balance.
‘Research shows that if you can make it to 28 days smoke free then you are five times more likely to quit for good.’
Stoptober offers a range of free quitting tools including: the NHS Quit Smoking app, Facebook messenger bot, Stoptober Facebook online communities, daily emails and SMS, and an online personal quit plan.
The personal quit plan helps people find a combination of support that’s right for them, including expert support from local stop smoking services and stop smoking aids.
To find out how to get involved visit nhs.uk/better-health/quit-smoking.