I had been smoking for more than 30 years – I started when I was 14. It was just the normal thing to do back then, everyone smoked.
I smoked tailies, and then rollies and I think I continued out of habit. It was just a part of my lifestyle. I would smoke about 30 cigarettes a day. I was a chain smoker. I’d squeeze two cigarettes into my morning smoko and then eat my lunch as quickly as possible so I could get at least four cigarettes in.
I’d tried to stop a number of times in the past. I’ve tried cold turkey, pills, hypnosis. Nothing worked.
But my health started to decline and I developed COPD. I was struggling with lung infections nearly monthly. I was waking up coughing every morning and night and I had run out of sick days at work. My doctor told me if I didn’t stop smoking it would only continue to get worse and he asked if I wanted some help and referred me to the Southern Stop Smoking Service, who had a coach running a clinic at the Hokonui Runanga every second Thursday.
I came to see the coach and brought my partner along for support. The coach talked to us about the various stop smoking tools available to us and together we decided on a plan that included a script of champix through my doctor.
Soon after I starting my stop smoking journey, I had cut down my smoking by half. It was then that I realised how much of a hold nicotine had over me. I couldn’t believe it, you don’t realise it until you stop. I have a vape as well because I knew I would need something to do with my hands.
I’m so pleased to have stopped. I can’t believe how easy it was after smoking for so many years. I haven’t coughed in weeks and I’m saving tons of money. I sometimes see people standing outside in the cold having a smoke and I feel sorry for them now! That used to be me. Food tastes different now - Some foods I disliked, I like now!
I’m so pleased we came to see the stop smoking coach. She helped us with a range of things we hadn’t even thought of, such as why we had a metallic taste in our mouths. It’s been wonderful having her support and meeting with her every couple of weeks for ongoing support and motivation.
I only came to the clinic to support my partner Cory. I wasn’t interested in stopping smoking. I started when I was 12. I suffered a traumatic experience while I was at a boarding school, which led me to smoke and I never stopped. I was also smoking about 30 a day.
When Cory told me he was going to see a stop smoking coach, I wanted to come to support him but I didn’t feel I was ready to stop at that time. I couldn’t even look at the coach. But after leaving that day I felt motivated to look at my own smoking. I also thought what’s the point in me still smoking when he’s suffering from lung problems?
So, I stopped. I did it for Cory. I used patches and lozenges and I ended up stopping smoking even before he did. When we came back to the clinic two weeks later, the coach couldn’t believe it. I’m really proud of myself, and my kids are proud of me too. I have asthma and I’m finding it much easier to breathe now. I can’t believe we did it. This was just the right timing for us. Now, we can be around people smoking and it doesn’t even worry us.
Stop Smoking Coach Jo Te Tai said, “The most amazing thing is the time frame around how all of this happened. The pair used the CO machine the first day and it was one of the biggest readings I had seen in a long time. Karen didn’t want to know and that was fine. She wouldn’t even look at me. She was just there to support Cory. So when they came back the next fortnight, I could see a difference in Karen. She was ok to look at me now and talk, and I thought what’s been happening? Cory told me they had both done it, they were both smoke free. I couldn’t believe it. We used the CO machine again and both were a 1, which is massive. I’m just blown away by Cory and Karen.”