Ipswich: Star reporter goes cold turkey for No Smoking day
To many of us, smoking can be as natural as breathing.
The after-dinner cigarette, smoking with friends and stepping out of the office to relieve a bit of stress during a particularly hectic day are all part of life.
But we have all tried to quit, or at least wanted to at some point. Personally, barely a month will go by without the idea of kicking the habit coming into my mind.
To mark National No Smoking Day, I decided I would attempt to give up for one day, to prove to myself that it is possible.
I have smoked for more than six years.
When I was living in Lincolnshire and working at a factory to earn a bit of pocket money, a cigarette every two hours broke the day up and helped everything to move along quite nicely.
So I knew that forgoing cigarettes, just for one day, would prove a difficult task.
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In fact waking up last Thursday morning, I fell straight into the same old routine. Wake up, make a cup of coffee, roll a cigarette and step outside. It was not until I had the cigarette in my mouth that it suddenly dawned on me that I was not smoking today!
Despite quickly throwing it away, this was the worst possible start but it was proof of the state that I, and millions of others in the country, find ourselves in.
And leaving for work I was quick to prepare myself for the multitude of emotions I would feel throughout the day.
Hunger, irritability and sweating are all common withdrawal symptoms, even just one day in.
I felt all of these and more.
With no patches or nicotine gum in sight, I was reduced to sticks of chewing gum and a large bag of assorted lollipops brought in by one of my colleagues to aid me in my challenge.
I can’t say that these would prove to be particularly effective in the fight against smoking. By the end of the day the lollipop bag was nearly finished and I can’t begin to count the number of times I wanted to sneak out to the smoker’s shelter.
But nobody says stopping smoking is easy.
Just stopping for a day reminded me of the tough task that awaits me as I know one day I will have to stop smoking for good.
Sitting at my desk it was hard to concentrate on the tasks at hand and arriving home after work it took all the willpower I had not to light up.
Come Friday morning though, I did have a sense of pride that I achieved my goal of going 24 hours without a cigarette. And I was without that dreadful feeling you have after smoking all day.
But it was also clear that if you are trying to stop smoking, it is very difficult without help and the patches and gum will only take you so far.
Live Well Suffolk, which has a base in Ipswich, provides a stop smoking service and so far in the past year, more than 4,000 have been able to quit with the support of advisors at the centre.
It would be a lie to say that I have not smoked in the past week. But it has proven to me that quitting smoking is something that is achievable and, with a little help, could be something I finally stick with.
n If you would like help in stopping to smoke, contact Live Well Suffolk on 01473 229292, or visit www.livewellsuffolk.org.uk
n Have you successfully quit smoking? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, IP4 1AN, or you can send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org