‘It’s tough when all you want to do is have a cigarette’

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  • Quitting smoking

    I started smoking when I was 13. It would be a couple of ciggies round the back of the bike sheds.

    There was a big gang of us and we’d smoke about 10 a day – I used to pinch a couple from my mum’s pack.

    Once you start that young, you’re hooked, aren’t you? It wasn’t long before I was on 40 a day

    I tried to stop seriously twice before. When I was about 24, I went to see a hypnotist. It worked for my mum, so I thought I’d give it a go. Like most people, it didn’t do it for me and the effects only lasted a couple of days.

    Then in 2002, I tried the Alan Carr method. I actually did pretty well that time and quit for nine months. Unfortunately, a family argument at Christmas stressed me out and I started again.

    Last year, I realised that I want a family of my own for the first time – I’ve never wanted kids before now.

    I discovered from reading leaflets that you ought to stop for at least a year before trying to have kids, so that was my incentive.

    I decided to arm myself with as much information as possible and do it properly this time.

    I signed up at my local surgery for my local NHS Stop Smoking Service, where you go once a week to help keep the momentum going.

    I also saw the surgery nurse, who really helped loads. She measured the CO (carbon monoxide) levels in my lungs every week so I could see the improvement and she was always there to talk to when things were difficult.

    I also signed up for a free NHS programme called ‘Together’, where you get support at important times by text, post, phone or email.

    It was pretty tough and emotional and at some points it’s difficult to stay rational, when all you want to do is have a cigarette.

    That’s when all the support you get from the NHS really helps. Even if you think you’re going out of your mind, there’s someone to talk to.

    The first time I realised it was making a difference was when I could walk up the stairs without feeling out of breath.

    I had a couple of sneaky fags early on, but haven’t smoked one in the last 9 months.

    I’ve got more energy than ever and that itself gives me more incentive to keep it going.

    Not many people quit the first time, so I feel lucky that I did it in one go this time round.

    Emma Haskell, 33, is from Gosport

    Tips on stopping smoking
    Could your teenager be smoking?
    Get the facts on smoking and pregnancy
    – Get more help and information on giving up smoking at gosmokefree.nhs.uk