Paul's Stop Smoking Mission

(Blog #12)

Tuesday 10th January 2017

Smoking is deadly – we know that. A study by the World Health Organisation (WHO), completed in conjunction with the US National Cancer Institute, estimates that by 2030 smoking will kill an estimated eight million a year, an increase from the current rate of six million. It’s a terrifying prospect for us all - and for our future generations.

That report appears just as our intern, Paul-Stuart Greenough, is trying to quit smoking. He knows it won’t be easy, but he’s determined to try, and now he shares with us his thoughts on why, and how, he means to stop smoking. 

"I am starting this blog in January, which means people are going dry. Not just for the usual drink either, which of course the name infers; but people are going dry for all sorts of things, booze, unhealthy food, shopping sprees - so I have decided, for the fourth or fifth time, to go dry, for cigs.

I have wanted to quit for a long time, my biggest worry was hitting the ten-year mark.

I am 26 now, I started at 17. A summer of festivals, booze-fuelled holidays and sixth form parties meant social smoking was becoming more like casual smoking, and before I knew it, I was smoking as soon as I had woken up with my head out of the bedroom window. Having a chewie post-cig, before going into English and hearing someone say ‘someone stinks of smoke’ seemed a lot less shameful then, than how it started to sound years down the line.

I kind of liked how I felt when I was round the back of the sixth form building smoking underage (the legal age for purchasing cigarettes had just been changed to 18, even though one year earlier I was legally allowed to fill up my lungs as often as I’d wished). I wasn’t just buying them illegally (or maybe it was the shopkeeper at fault, I didn’t know, nor did I care) but I was also breaking school rules – No Smoking on School Grounds. However, rarely did any teachers come to the back of the sixth form building, we were basically adults (sense the sarcasm).

What seems completely harmless at 17, can quite often seem a lot more harmful when you start to care about the fragility of your body in young adulthood. That’s what happened to me, and this is where I am now. I am not 17, I am a few years off thirty, and merely several months away from hitting double digits on my smoking anniversary. THAT. CAN. NOT. HAPPEN.

I have, four, maybe five ciggies left. I’m not throwing them away, it’s one minute to three in the afternoon as I type these words, so, I will finish off the pack throughout the day, then… attempt to go cold turkey. I may need help, encouragement, cigarette substitutes, nicotine patches, a slap and who knows what else, but as of midnight tonight, I am finished. At least I hope so. I have done this before, and failed. Which is probably my biggest fear, failure, again. The one thing stopping me this time hopefully, is that I am writing this for a blog, for potentially billions of people to read, or more likely, tens, maybe hundreds of people, but who’s counting. Other than me of course, with every day, hour, minute, second that I am not smoking.

Part of me is happy I’ve tried this before, I know what to expect, but then, knowing what to expect is part of the reason I haven’t tried to quit in over three years. I know, that for a while, you just count the time you haven’t had a bif for. It’s strange, because obviously you aren’t counting down until you can have one, it’s like the end goal is an infinite number, and you will never reach it, so “forget it, I’ll just smoke now, I’ll never make it”, creeps into your head. But I hear, that after a certain point, that thought process leaves your mind, and you start counting in a positive way, congratulating yourself on getting so far, rather than feeling anxious about how long it’s been since you last smoked. I’ll let you know how it goes."

Friday 13th January 2017 

I decided to quit Monday morning and here I am on Friday afternoon. Somehow, I have managed to go the four days (I had my last cigarette 6pm Monday evening) without a single smoke. So far so good.

Surprisingly, I have only had two cravings, and both I have managed to bypass pretty quickly. I think writing this blog has helped. Also, I have most definitely replaced cigarettes with food. Yesterday for lunch, I had two Pot Noodles and a triple sandwich, a packet of BBQ Hula Hoops, a handful of caramel digestives and several sugar-fuelled coffees.

Piling on weight, isn’t a great thing, and isn’t a massive amount healthier than smoking but I am not addicted to eating. The way I see it is – I’d rather replace a deadly addiction with an unhealthy habit. My food obsession will subside when my cravings go away. I assume.

I read that the worst days will be the first three to four, so, I have made it. However, I am no entirely sure I believe this supposed fact. Firstly, because after reading several posts online, a lot of people seem to say they hit their wall at around day nine, and several people say they are still suffering withdrawal months later. I’m not sure I could cope with that.

So far I am finding night time the toughest strangely, I lie awake, wanting a cigarette more than I do in the day time. I have read that difficulty snoozing is an expected side effect.

The big test will be the weekend - no office work to fill my time. However, boring research work from my laptop at home will quite possibly push me to the point where I need a cigarette. 

I may also be going to the pub to watch the match on Sunday so, this could also be a worrying situation. Especially when many friends of mine who smoke.

Be strong Paul-Stuart. Be strong.

Written by  Paul-Stuart Greenough

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