Herald reporter Gemma Hartley tried to give up smoking for International Smoke-Free Day. She kept a diary of her six-week struggle.

As my 30th birthday approached I knew it was time to make some changes to my health and lifestyle.

For the past six weeks I have experienced severe highs and lows as I attempted to end my 15 year smoking habit of between 10 to 15 cigarettes a day.

After meeting with a health professional they recommended that I use nicotine patches and chewing gum to ease the cravings but I chose to quit cold turkey.

More than once I fell off the wagon but I continued my fight to overcome my addiction and kept a journal documenting my challenge.


Week One

Sleepless nights and a serious lack of any ability to concentrate. Constantly feeling agitated and on edge. Severe mood swings and a need to constantly distract myself. I am drinking more than four litres of water a day and eating far more food than normal. I have taken to going for short walks at the times when I would normally smoke. My skin is breaking out and feels itchy. I don't feel comfortable in my own skin. Overwhelming urges to smoke. Made numerous desperate phone calls to quit smoking helpline, made a new friend.

Week Two

Started going to the gym after work and swimming or long walks around the city. Concentration is returning. Cravings tend to come in short sharp bursts that I can control if I distract myself straight away when the thought pops into my head. Had a drink and smoked. Disappointed but didn't return to full-on smoking. Expert said that 95 per cent of people trying to quit will fall off the wagon. Eating habits are still very bad and need to try and focus on fixing that. Skin is still a mess.

Week Three

Bought myself some new clothes using the money I have saved so far. Cravings are in control. Still have a problem when I drink. Decided to invest in some good facial products to help my skin. Seem to be working. Invested in fruit and nuts to snack on instead of cake and chocolate! Am able to walk up a steep hill to work without getting out of breath - progress! Still drinking a lot of water and upped my intake of fruit during the day. Waved at my smoking friends outside work!

30 May, 2016 5:30pm
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Week Four

Feeling rather good. Fitness levels have improved. I have put on weight but was told this would happen. I have maintained my regular 5/10 minute walks throughout the day. I enjoy the fresh air and find it helps me focus at work. I talk to more people at work now and am often joined on walks by colleagues. Another colleague has quit smoking too so I have a support buddy which is helpful. Skin looks much better, whoop!

Week Five

Had a drink and smoked! Seems to be a pattern. I have now decided that if I want to smoke I will do. The change in mentality feels like a weight of the shoulders and I am simply choosing not to do it. Worked out that I have saved over $200 so far and am planning what to do with it after my six weeks is up. Taste buds are improving.

Week Six

Enjoying cooking and eating spicy foods as I can taste them much better now. Don't drink coffee at work anymore as it made me want to smoke. I smell better! Am richer and healthier and have some extra cash in the bank to go shopping with. Have made more friends at work and enjoyed the encouragement and support I have received. Only want to smoke when I drink and I am not willing to quit both!!