Phil said: “I started smoking in the late eighties when I was 18 and in the military. I used to smoke around 20 a day but it varied depending on what I was doing.
“Over the last 30 years I have tried to quit several times using a variety of methods such as going cold turkey and using medication like Champix, but I’ve never managed to quit successfully. I even lasted several months, but for various reasons I started smoking again.
“The last time I quit was about three years ago when I had to have major surgery due to a serious health condition. I was determined to quit, as I knew it would help me recover much better in the long term and I did really well. Unfortunately, we then went through a difficult family situation, so I started smoking again to help alleviate some of the stress.
“I then had to have further surgery in the summer of 2019 and I began thinking about quitting again, but it didn’t feel like it was the right time. Looking back, I think I was just trying to find an excuse not to try again, as I had failed several times before.
“My wife and daughter have been incredibly supportive and kept trying to encourage me to have another quit attempt. However, it wasn’t until the coronavirus outbreak happened that I seriously considered giving it another go.
“Due to my health condition I am immunosuppressed, which means I am in the high risk group of developing COVID-19 complications so I am having to shield. I am very concerned about contracting COVID-19 as it would have serious implications for me, so I thought now was the right time to quit smoking for good. I’m determined to beat the addiction this time.
“I knew I needed support to quit so I contacted Health Works Newcastle and spoke to one of their advisors, who was brilliant. She recommended I used nicotine patches and a nasal spray to help with the cravings. It’s now been nearly two months since I quit and I feel great. It hasn’t been easy as I still get the odd pang, but I just get up and do something to distract myself and it is getting easier.
“I have definitely noticed the benefits of quitting as my sense of smell has returned and my taste has come back too. My breathing wasn’t too bad before I quit, but I have noticed a difference and my blood pressure has come down too, which is great. Quitting smoking was always about improving my health and the benefits far outweigh any monetary gain. However, since quitting I have saved £500 and I’m going to use the money to treat my wife and daughter.
“I know I still have challenges to come as due to lockdown I haven’t been on a long journey or in a pub, but I’ve come this far so I’m not going to give up now. I have many friends and colleagues who work on the frontline and I feel that it would be unfair of me to continue smoking while the NHS is under immense pressure. It was definitely the right time for me to quit.
“The NHS, keyworkers and everyone have been incredible over the past few months as it hasn’t been easy. We’ve all had to make sacrifices to protect our loved ones, and I urge anyone who smokes to give quitting a go. My advice is find a method that will work for you. If I can do it, so can you.”
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