“If I can quit, anyone can”


71-year-old Brenda had smoked for over thirty years. Now, with expert help, she is smoke-free and living life to the full.

Brenda’s story

Brenda sat discussing her quitting smoking story South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

“I smoked for over thirty years. I’m not quite sure why I started – I guess it was more for the social aspect of it. I always used to smoke roll-ups rather than normal cigarettes.

When people ask me why I stopped smoking I can’t really put it down to one thing. I just woke up one day and thought to myself ‘I’m sick of doing this – I’m going to give it up for good’. The main thing that made me want to quit, what drove me on when I craved a cigarette and what keeps me from going back to smoking was my ashtray. It might sound like a strange reason but I got sick of the sight of it. It just looked disgusting. I hated seeing all of the ash and cigarette butts in the tray. I grew to hate the smell and everything about it.

I thought to myself ‘If I don’t quit now – I never will – I’ll be smoking to my dying day’. I had been smoking for so long and I just knew I had to give up. I’d tried to quit before by just cutting down the amount I smoked but it didn’t work so I knew that this time I needed some expert advice. So the next day I went to see my GP for some advice and he put me in touch with the stop smoking service. They were amazing. They listened to me and I felt really valued.

The first thing we did was agree on a quit date. That was really important for me as I could plan around the date and slowly cut down how much I was smoking. I started wearing nicotine patches during the day. At first, they were quite strong and it took a little while to get used to them but we slowly dropped the dose. I could immediately feel the difference it was making to my cravings for a cigarette. I was steadily dropping the amount of cigarettes I was smoking – and if I had a sudden urge for a cigarette I used one of the inhalators. I found the inhalator really useful as it not only helped with my cravings but it kept my hands busy too.

I slowly got to the point where I didn’t need to use the patches anymore and I wasn’t craving a cigarette. The first day was the hardest. I was trying my best to keep busy to keep my mind away from wanting a cigarette. I had to keep my fingers busy as they were so used to doing my roll-ups! But it got easier and easier every day and I feel so proud to be able to say I’m now not a smoker.

You have to want to give up smoking. You can’t quit and have the occasional cigarette – there’s no fooling people by saying you have stopped. You can smell it on your clothes! I really enjoy being able to say I don’t smoke – I know my family is so proud of me.

I really feel the benefit of having stopped smoking – when I’m walking I’m not out of breath as much as I used to be and I haven’t had a cough since I quit. I still get the odd cold but not nearly as much as I used to. I enjoy the smell of fresh air!

I think smoking is frowned upon socially nowadays. You have to stand outside or in the doorway getting in people’s way. If you are ill and people ask if you smoke they immediately presume it’s your fault because you smoke. The way I look at it now is you have to eat to stay alive. You don’t need to smoke to stay alive.

My advice to anyone thinking of quitting smoking is get some expert help – don’t try to do it on your own. And once you have that help keep on trying. Try, try and try again. I never thought I could quit, but I have and I’m so proud of myself. If I can quit – anyone can. But you have to want to. No one else can do it for you. It’s a positive, wonderful feeling knowing I will never smoke again.”