Linda Hall: Quit and you'll never look back

By Linda Hall

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Next month Linda Hall will celebrate four years of non-smoking.
Next month Linda Hall will celebrate four years of non-smoking.

Next month I will be celebrating four years of non-smoking.

Well actually I did have a little slip-up at last year's work Christmas party. I don't know why I thought it would be a good idea at the time, I suspect the wine I had consumed confused me somewhat.

Anyway it was not a good idea and the next day I felt absolutely awful and guilty.

What had I done? Was this the beginning of the end of all my good work? Would I have to go through all that pain of giving up again?

But no, sense prevailed and I haven't touched a cigarette since.

It wasn't easy giving up a habit I had been addicted to for years.

And as more pressure is put on smokers to give up the habit I have to say I feel sorry for them.

It's not fun being addicted to something that is so bad for not only the person smoking but for everyone around them.

I admit when I stopped smoking I became one of those pain-in-the-butt ex-smokers giving unwanted advice to smokers.

Smokers don't need that, what they need is help and encouragement to quit, not judgement and dirty looks. In my defence I only did it because I cared about the people I was nagging.

I have a friend who has tried everything to quit. You name it she's done it. She's been hypnotised, had acupuncture, worn patches, tried every type of tablet and chewing gum available and still she smokes.

Once when she was meant to have given up (at the stage I wasn't smoking) there were a few of us at her house having coffee.

She was handing round a tin of biscuits (most unusual) and acting very suspicious.

When she got to the one smoker in the room she slipped a note into the tin. It read: "Leave me a smoke in the letterbox." We laughed when we found out about it later but it just goes to show how cunning people can be when they are desperate for a fag.

I didn't stop smoking when my father died of lung cancer at a very early age, I smoked around my children, in the house and in the car.

I'm ashamed of that now, but at the time thought nothing of it. I hate to think how much money I have lit up in smoke.

The first time I gave up I had a little notebook that I would write in every time I had a smoke. I gradually cut back until I stopped. That lasted for about three months.

Don't ask me why I started again. I don't know.

The next time I listened to a tape every night at bedtime. I set a date in my mind and stopped on that day. I think I lasted about six months that time.

I tried cutting back, didn't work, I tried smoking only when I had a drink.

That was a very bad idea. At that time I started work early in the morning and would be home by 3pm. I'd rush around getting everything done and then pour myself a wine (so I could have a smoke) at 4pm ...

Bad move.

This time I was determined. I used patches and read Allen Carr's book Easy Way to Stop Smoking. (I had started this book about two years before but never finished it.) It worked.

It was hard and horrible but I'm proud to say I'm a non-smoker now.

For smokers it is getting tougher to smoke in public.

The Hastings District Council is intending to put up no smoking signs in public parks and playgrounds around Hastings.

Although it won't be against the law to smoke and no one will be policing the areas the council hopes smokers will buckle under from peer pressure and refrain from smoking.

I hope so to, because the more places they can't smoke the more they won't and the easier it will be for them to give up.

Remember never give up on giving up. Ask for help. Once you have conquered the beast believe me you will feel amazing.

FOOTNOTE: To all the wonderful people I meet at Atawhai last Monday: I'm doing my homework and will get back to you.

Linda Hall is assistant editor at Hawke's Bay Today.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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