A woman who has smoked since she was a teenager has told how changing her routine during lockdown has helped her on her mission to quit.
t comes as Cancer Focus Northern Ireland launches their campaign to raise awareness around the harms of smoking as part of lung cancer awareness month this November.
Part of the campaign is the shocking statistic that 25% of all cancer deaths here are caused by smoking.
Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers in Northern Ireland and between 2014 and 2018 an average of 1,313 people in Northern Ireland were diagnosed with lung cancer, with 1,023 dying from the disease every year.
Smoker Nuala Ward (42), who is from Belfast, has smoked since she was 15 years old.
She spoke about her efforts to curb the habit through fitness after realising how badly smoking was affecting her health.
“During the first lockdown I decided to do some one-to-one training with my trainer. That’s when I realised smoking was causing big problems in my fitness,” she said.
“I really struggled and found it tough with tightness and burning in my chest. I had to constantly stop for breath. That’s when I started to think about quitting smoking.”
Nuala joined Cancer NI stop smoking Facebook group after lockdown prevented her from attending the classes usually held at her local community centre.
Chatting with others on the Facebook group, Nuala said, keeps her motivated to continue with quitting alongside a weekly phone call from a Cancer NI stop smoking specialist. And she set a date in her head for when she wanted to have stopped. Changing her morning routine was key in her fight against cravings, along with the use of nicotine patches.
Nuala added: “Instead of a cup of tea and a cigarette first thing in the morning, I started with a shower and got dressed. I was nice and fresh and didn’t want to spoil that feeling with cigarette smoke.”
Nuala has tried to stop smoking before – but slipped back into the habit when she was stressed.
“I don’t even remember lighting my first cigarette, I must have been 14 or 15. Everybody else was smoking. Until I stopped I was smoking slightly over 20 a day.”
Cancer Focus NI stop smoking specialist Doreen Regan said that while face-to-face clinics were suspended due to coronavirus, she added that services were continuing remotely stressing that those with support are four times more likely to quit.
“We are still offering support remotely by phone, video calls or via our private Facebook group where you can get tips, hints and information on how to stop smoking. To join just DM Cancer Focus NI on Facebook with your email address.”
For more information on how to stop smoking visit www.cancerfocusni.org/cancer-prevention/cancer-prevention-services/stop-smoking