My first cigarette tasted disgusting but I forced myself to keep going.
It was a social thing. You had to smoke if you wanted to be “one of the cool kids.” It made me feel so grown up at 15 and it wasn’t even expensive back then.
It was actually quite widely advertised. I remember once going to Australia on holiday with my family and being handed free cigarette samples in the mall!
Smoking was everywhere, so I just continued. For me, I used it as a motivational tool – I’ll just have a cigarette and then I’ll do it. I would smoke more than a 30gram per week and spend roughly $100.
I tried to stop smoking a number of times over the years but I never went more than a day or two.
When my daughter turned three she became a little mischievous and I remember she would say things like “go outside and have a smoke Mum.” The only reason she was saying that was so that she could be naughty out of view. I knew this was bad, but my biggest motivation came when I caught her with a lighter in her mouth.
That was it, I thought, time to stop for good! I was lucky that whilst in hospital having my second child I was referred to the Southern Stop Smoking Service. I had heard about the service when I was pregnant but at that point I just couldn’t face not smoking.
It was actually easier to continue smoking than to think about stopping. But, once I had made my mind up that was it, and the Otago coach came to see me.
She was supportive, non-judgmental, and could relate having stopped smoking in the past herself. She helped me to formulate a plan and showed me how to use the patches properly. I found it helpful to have someone to be accountable too and, being the competitive person I am, constantly trying to get a lower number on the Co machine.
With the assistance of patches and gum, I have been smoke free now since November. I don’t miss it at all and in fact when I smell it on someone who has been smoking, it really puts me off it.
I had a persistent cough that’s now gone, so that’s a huge bonus. But the biggest bonus for me is that my children won’t remember me as a smoker!