Renfrewshire Provost Loraine Cameron has shared her story of how she managed to quit smoking after 36 years.
Quitting smoking is hard, and it can take several tries to succeed, says Lorraine Cameron, she said:
“I started smoking when I was only 14. Me and some of my friends tried it together and like lots of other kids back then, it made us feel cool and grown up.
“As an adult, I tried several times to quit. The main reason was money but there were also health concerns. I knew it wasn’t good for me or my bank account, I suppose we all know that!
“I did manage to quit temporarily when I was pregnant. That’s four times I gave it up. But when each of my babies were only a few weeks old, I reached for the cigarettes once more. I thought after giving up for months at a time, it would be easy to stop for good. But it never was.”
She continued: “I half-heartedly tried various nicotine replacement methods at different times, but I didn’t feel they worked for me. I think the penny only dropped when I started to feel embarrassed about smoking. I’ll never forget how it happened.
“I was on a night out and we all went back to my friend’s house and sat in her lovely conservatory smoking and gossiping until the wee hours.
“When I woke up at home the next morning the smell of smoke on my clothes was really strong. I was thinking about my friend, who isn’t a smoker, and I was worried that all our smoking had left a horrible smell in her lovely house.
“After putting the smelly clothes in the washing basket, I made a coffee and lit myself a cigarette to try and feel better. But I took just one drag and felt sick! I stubbed it out and that was the last cigarette I ever had.
“Something inside me clicked that day. I realised I didn’t want to be the person that nobody liked sitting next to or invited to their home because I smelled of smoke. I think the indoor smoking ban and clean air in pubs and restaurants helped too because it meant the smell was more noticeable than ever before.
“I never imagined I could do it, but in the end, I went cold turkey. I even skipped social events for a couple of months. It was tough but I knew I had to avoid anything that might trigger me to start smoking again.
“I’ve been smoke free for a wonderful nine years now with no slip ups! It was very challenging, and I didn’t start to feel a real sense of achievement for a few months after my last cigarette.”
Loraine’s quality of life began to improve after she quid, she added: “There is a big improvement in my quality of life, not only physically and financially, but socially as well. As a smoker, everywhere I went my first thought was ‘where can I go for a smoke?’ or ‘when can I escape for a smoke?’.
“Nice meals and outings were constantly interrupted with cigarette breaks and I ended up missing lots of the fun and conversations that others were having.
“One unfortunate side effect of me going cold turkey was that I ended up putting on weight. I suppose I filled the gap that smoking left with eating more. But I’m focussing my efforts on healthy eating now and I know if I can beat smoking, I can do this too!
“My advice to anyone who is trying to quit would be to not overthink it. Just go for it and face any challenges as they happen. You might feel grumpy or anti-social, but that’s ok. Give yourself the space you need. Distract yourself with something like your favourite movie or a great book.
“Get help for any withdrawal symptoms. Get your loved ones on board. I’m so grateful to my husband and kids for their support, it really made a huge difference. Most of all, find a way of quitting that works for you and be kind to yourself!”
Anyone in Renfrewshire who has the goal of giving up smoking can contact a Quit Your Way adviser by calling the free helpline on 0800 848484 or create a quit plan at www.quityourway.scot.