Today I can confidently say that it has now been a whole year since I smoked a cigarette. This time last year I kicked the habit for good with the help of LloydsPharmacy’s Stop Smoking service. I’m proud to report that after 22 years as a smoker, there have been no relapses (well, apart from a few in the early days) and now I am completely free from smoking and the cravings that used to gnaw away at me.

You might be wondering why I wanted to give up after 22 years of smoking. Well, a little over a year ago I found out that my wife was pregnant with twins. This provided the motivation I’d always needed to quit; I knew I wouldn’t want to smoke around my children and the thought of having to wash my hands, brush my teeth and change my clothes every time I wanted to play with them or hold them seemed ridiculous – all of that because I needed a cigarette? No chance. So after 22 years as a smoker, it was time to put down my lighter and stub out my last cigarette.

Previous attempts of stopping never worked so, slightly sceptical but in need of help, I went to LloydsPharmacy following a recommendation from a friend. You can read all about my early experiences of quitting in my previous blogs which I wrote to help people see what it’s actually like to quit smoking.

A personalised Stop Smoking programme was devised for me by my local pharmacist, in which I was advised to use nicotine replacement patches and a Quickmist spray. I used the products for roughly the first six weeks and then I noticed I was making changes on my own. The first thing to change was how I used the spray – I actually stopped using it, mainly because I didn’t like feeling dependent on it. Then I started to notice that I was forgetting to put on the patches in the mornings which I took as an encouraging sign that I was ready to carry on alone.

In the early days of quitting, I quickly noticed that I had much more energy. More generally over the past year, I’ve noticed other positive differences to my health. Breathing is easier and my sense of smell is sharper.

I’ve also been able to save a significant amount of money – I used to get through a pack and a half of cigarettes a day which really mounts up. And whilst I’d like to say I’ve spent the money on a romantic getaway for my wife and me, the reality is that the money’s gone on much needed baby products!
I’m also a lot more productive at work – a benefit I’d never have considered before quitting. When I was a smoker I would take regular cigarette breaks but now I use the time to make a phone call or get on with something else. I also used to think I needed cigarettes to get me through the stressful times but now I know that smoking actually increases your heart rate which makes you feel more agitated and now I look back, I can think of times when I’d come in from having a cigarette feeling quite wound up.

But the most unexpected outcome of having kicked the habit is my change in attitude towards smoking. I used to see it as an attractive trait, something that I associated with old black and white movies where it’s almost romanticised. Now I can’t think of any positives to smoking. I find it off-putting when I see someone smoking and I can’t stand the smell.

For anyone who is thinking of quitting this Stop Smoking Day, like I did a year ago, the most helpful advice I could give is to get help! I tried stopping twice but I couldn’t keep it up on my own. Accessing the LloydsPharmacy Stop Smoking service means that you can talk to a trained professional about the best approach for you and you can keep going back for additional support like I did.

And don’t be discouraged if you do succumb to a cigarette when you’re trying to quit – all is not lost!

Just imagine you’re putting out that cigarette like it’s your last and carry on quitting.
I’m proud to have reached the one year milestone and my former life as a smoker now feels like a million years ago. Here’s to being more productive, having more energy and one day, spare money to spend on things other than nappies!