Cost of living: Fratton resident is saving hundreds of pounds thanks to council scheme to help smokers quit

AS the city council ramps up efforts to support people facing the cost-of-living crisis, one woman is saving hundreds of pounds a month – thanks to a council scheme that had her quit a smoking habit of more than 40 years.
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Fratton resident Caroline Smith took up smoking cigarettes when she was a teenager more than forty years ago – but now she’s encouraging other residents to follow her in quitting the habit and freeing up much needed cash.

Caroline had been smoking 50 rolls up a day, costing her £70 a week.

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With the rising cost of living, the mum-of-three was choosing to buy tobacco rather than turning on her heating, and she was badgering her adult children for cigarette money.

Caroline Smith is encouraging others to quite smoking using a council service - to improve their health and save their money
Picture: Habibur RahmanCaroline Smith is encouraging others to quite smoking using a council service - to improve their health and save their money
Picture: Habibur Rahman
Caroline Smith is encouraging others to quite smoking using a council service - to improve their health and save their money Picture: Habibur Rahman

Now the 55-year-old says her life has been transformed by a council scheme that has had completely cut out her previously expensive habit.

She said: ‘I was quite skeptical because I have tried quite a few times in the past. But you would go without food before you’d go without fags.

‘But the staff were absolutely great.

‘I have asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and now I feel a lot healthier – I can finish a conversation without constantly chocking half way through.

Portsmouth City Council has launched a campaign to make sure residents can get help during the cost-of-living crisisPortsmouth City Council has launched a campaign to make sure residents can get help during the cost-of-living crisis
Portsmouth City Council has launched a campaign to make sure residents can get help during the cost-of-living crisis
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‘And I have been almost completely saved from the cost of living crisis.’

Caroline spoke to her doctor about quitting after she lost her mother – also a smoker – to lung cancer in May.

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Caroline’s doctor then referred her to the council’s Wellbeing Service, which provides eight-week courses of nicotine patches and free e-cigarettes to help wean people off their nicotine addictions.

Helen Simmons, public health development manager said she predicts the service – which currently supports more than 400 people across the city - will only become busier as the cost of living crisis deepens.

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She said: ‘I think things are going to get squeezed, and squeezed, and squeezed for a lot of people.

‘Getting the right support will help people step away from the cost of smoking. That is turn will alleviate problems in households and mental health problems, because people feel so much better when they have kicked the habit.

People live in poverty because of smoking without even really realising. They cut back on everything else. You make that one change and you find yourself in a very different situation.’

Every year, the council’s Wellbeing Service helps more than 3,000 people to address issues with their weight, alcohol consumption, or smoking habits.

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Caroline said thanks to the service she is now ‘living, rather than barely surviving’.

She added: ‘I have hobbies now. I’m buying artificial flowers and making a display with them.’

Supported by The News, Portsmouth City Council is starting a big push to help people access vital information and services that will ensure that Portsmouth residents get access to facilities that could significantly help this winter.

Anyone in need of services to get by – whether they are food banks or advice on debt – can contact the council’s new dedicated cost of living helpline on 023 9284 1047 and more information can be found at portsmouth.gov.uk/costoflivinghub.