Smoking & Young Children

smoking & young childrenI gave up smoking in 2004 long, long before we even contemplated having a baby. It was the right thing to do at the time. I missed it but didn’t go back to it until earlier this year. My son was 2 and a half when I started smoking again. I’d had 18 months of complex physical and mental health problems and I couldn’t deal with the stress anymore, so I started borrowing cigarettes from friends, then buying packets and then I was a smoker again.

When I started again, I promised that I wouldn’t smoke in the house or when my son was around. I never did smoke inside, but I’d smoke outside and my son, my beautiful, innocent, impressionable son would come to the window and watch me smoke. Then he figured out how to open the door and a few times he came outside to be with me. He’s seen me smoke and I’m horrified about that. It makes smoking seem normal and something nice, normal people like Mummy do. It isn’t.
I knew I had to give up and Stoptober gave me a focus and the motivation to do so. I still miss it, but I know it was the right thing to do both for me and for him. I grew up with parents who between them smoked 60 fags a day, in the house in front of us kids, in the car with the windows closed, that was the 1980’s for you, smoke filled cars and no seatbelts.

The facts about smoking in front of and near kids are that children are:
– at increased risk of developing asthma, and ear, nose and chest infections.
– at greater risk of dying from cot death (sudden infant death syndrome).
– more likely to become smokers themselves when older.
– are at increased risk of developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cancer as adults.

Some studies have shown that on average, children of parents who smoke do less well at reading and reasoning skills compared to children in smoke-free homes, even at low levels of smoke exposure. That’s quite a sobering thought.

There are some people who think that parents who smoke near their children are committing some form of child abuse. I wouldn’t go that far, but it does potentially have serious health implications for the child. Both my brother and I developed asthma. I also had eczema and chronic ear infections which have now been linked to being in a smoke filled house.

My Dad has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and will likely live a shorter life for having that. He no longer smokes, but 40 plus years of heavy smoking have taken its toll on him. My son who adores his Grandpa will lose him sooner than he should because of smoking. My Mum still smokes and she stinks, she has health problems, she won’t give up.

Like with most things I have a live and let live attitude, do what you want as long as you don’t harm others. But the problem with smoking is it does harm others. You don’t have to be sat in the same room as them or even sat in a smoke filled car in the 1980’s; smoke will filter through, permeate, linger and harm.

If you’re pregnant or if you’ve got kids, you will have been lectured to the moon and back by GPs, Midwives, Health Visitors any healthcare professional who has crossed you path. Nothing I can say will make you quit. But if you’re thinking about it there is plenty of help and support out there if you need it. A good place to start is with your GP or pharmacy.

Quitting isn’t easy, but I guess seeing your beautiful child wheezing, struggling to breathe and puffing on an inhaler is much, much harder.

I was originally asked to write this article for a now defunct on-line magazine. It seemed a shame that it never saw the light of day – so I’m publishing it here on my blog instead.

Stoptober – December Update

photo (16) (600x481)It was suggested that I blog an update on how I was getting on now a whole month has passed since Stoptober. Firstly I’d like to thank everyone for their support, comments and good wishes over the last few months, it’s been cracking.

To recap. I signed up to do Stoptober with the help of Boots and their Smoke Less campaign. It took me a whole 12 days to work up the nerve to actually stop. I used nicotine patches for about 10 days, then forgot to put one on and never bothered after that.

I had one very drunken slip up which made me ill, and put me off the smokes (hopefully) for life and that was it. Looks easy-peasy written down like that doesn’t it? It really wasn’t.

I don’t think a day has gone by that I’ve not thought of it. A few days I’ve seriously considered buying a packet and I’ve had a cig in my hand on one occasion, which was swiftly snatched from me and crushed up by a well-meaning, if incredibly annoying friend.

I’ve given up though and that was the point. I appear to be laying down a bit of timber, but I’m not sure if that’s giving up smoking or the approach of winter and all its stodgy food. Either way I need to stop eyeing up stew and dumplings and make strides with the salad.

I’ve probably saved a fortune since. A quick bit of mental maths shows than since October 12th I’ve saved around £185 on cigarettes. Blimey! That’s quite a lot. I wish I’d had the sense to put all that in a jar now. looking back I’m not really sure how I ever found the money to smoke or what I now spend that money on.

Would I do it again? Absolutely. Will a day ever go by where I don’t miss it? I doubt it. No regrets? No, none at all.

If I can do it, I’m pretty sure you can. Give it a go, what’ve you got to lose?

Stoptober is Over

Well, that was the month that was. It’s looking very like I cracked the nut and stopped the fags. Huzzah etc. Can I tell you a story?

I went on a fairly epic night out, I’d sunk a serious quantity of booze, had a great time and I also had a fag. No wait, don’t be disappointed in me, it’s fine. It turns out that was the best fag of my life.

Fag Ash Lil
Fag Ash Lil

Stood outside a restaurant, swaying slightly from the cocktails I’d consumed that evening, I purloined a cigarette from a friend. I lit it, took a deep drag and then it hit me, the world started spinning, twisting, turning, flipping inside and out. I crouched on the pavement, still clutching the fag, trying to get my bearings. I was having a whitey. I’ve never had a whitey before, but this was unmistakable.

I somehow finished the fag (waste not want not) and struggled back inside and to my seat. I sat with my forehead pressed against the cold table, the universe still whizzing around me at 1000mph. My friends said I looked green and white and very, very wrong. Somehow after about ten minutes I pulled it back from the brink and I was ok. I’ve never in all my wild partying days experienced anything like that.

So that was it, my blissful love affair with nicotine over. It was horrible but I’m glad it happened, it’s stopped me and stopped me for good. Hopefully.

Stoptober is over. I’m nicotine free and happy. Success!

*You can find a range of tools and guidance on how to quit smoking from Boots here.

  • Stoptober Week Four
  • Stoptober Week Three
  • Stoptober Week Two
  • Stubbing Out My Dirty Habit – Stoptober
  • Stoptober Week One
  • Quit Day

Stoptober Week Four

I’m a busy bee. On Thursday I was rushing to get ready to go out, blow drying my hair, finding clean clothes, tidying up, rushing round like a mad thing. I pulled my coat on and ran out of the house, I was running very late for play group and I needed to pick my son up.

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Half way there I realised I’d not stuck a nicotine patch on, too late to turn back I decided I could manage the morning without. We got home at lunchtime. Between persuading a sandwich into a toddler and tidying the house in preparation for it being trashed during our afternoon play date, and the early arrival of said play date, I forgot to stick the nicotine patch on again.

By the time I’d remembered it was past tea time and I thought it wasn’t worth it. Since then I’ve decided to purposefully go without, always with the option of putting one on if need be.

When I first gave up in 2004 (for 9 years) I used patches. I had a pretty terrible time with them, I used to have incredibly vivid dreams about killing people and my skin itched like hell underneath the patches. I used them for two weeks just to break the spell, and not being able to hack it anymore just stopped using them.

It looks like I’ve repeated that pattern, but rather than having a terrible time, this time the patches were fine, great in fact. Without any fuss or bother I’ve given up smoking and given up the nicotine replacement therapy.

Don’t let that fool you into thinking I’ve had an easy time giving up, because I really haven’t. I’d still cheerfully kill for a fag. Sucking in the gorgeous smoky loveliness. The love never really goes away, but being parted from it does become less painful and less of an issue.

I’m not saying that I’ve been successful this time round, the signs are good though and if I can make it through to 2014 smoke free then I can start to relax again. I probably do feel a bit better for it, but again that’s early days.

I loved smoking, really loved it. If I can give up then I’m pretty sure you can too. Make the decision, summon up the willpower. Pick some nicotine replacement therapy which will work for you and go for it. Go on, give it a go.

Please do follow my journey, I’ll be writing a weekly update on my progress throughout Stoptober. If you want to join me you can find a range of tools and guidance on how to quit smoking during Stoptober and beyond here.

  • Stoptober Week Three
  • Stoptober Week Two
  • Stubbing Out My Dirty Habit – Stoptober
  • Stoptober Week One
  • Quit Day

Stoptober Week Three

photo (2) (600x481)It is 23rd October and I’m now three (long) weeks in to my Stoptober journey. I’ve not smoked since 12th October and I’m fiercely rubbing my nicotine patch in the hopes a bit more of the good stuff will find its way into my system.

I had hoped by now that my massive cravings would have started to wane. They haven’t really, but I live in hope for next week. I’m so proud of myself though, despite hitting my triggers (stress and boozy nights out) on a number of occasions, the worst thing I’ve done is eat cake. Okay, so the eating cake really must stop, especially as I’ve eaten all the cake. No really, I have.

I am enjoying not being stinky; my yellow fingers are less yellow. I’d like to say there’s more money in my purse, but anything with a picture of the Queen on just tends to magically evaporate.

It’s nice having the support and encouragement of my husband and some of my friends who knew I smoked. I’d deliberately not smoked in front of some people and kept it hidden. It’s a horrible, nasty habit and I was ashamed. Yes, this time I’d only smoked since July so it was easy to hide it but I couldn’t have hidden it forever.

I’m particularly enjoying not having to smoke outside in all weathers. Wrapped up against the elements; struggling to light a fag in a gale, sucking on a damp cig in the famous Manchester rain. I think autumn is a great time to give up; the weather acts as a superb motivation.

I’ve got one last week doing Stoptober and then I’ll be pushing through with No-fags-November and Don’t-start again-December. Before I know it it’ll be Never again-2014, the cravings a distant memory and the smell of smoke an aberration to my nasal passages. It will happen, it will.

So wish me luck, if I can do it anyone can, so what’s stopping you?

Please do follow my journey, I’ll be writing a weekly update on my progress throughout Stoptober. If you want to join me you can find a range of tools and guidance on how to quit smoking during Stoptober and beyond here.

Stoptober Week Two

Stubbing Out My Dirty Habit – Stoptober

Stoptober Week One

Quit Day

Stoptober Week Two

Today is October 16th. I’ve not failed at Stoptober, I’ve just had a very slow start.

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I had my last fag at noon on 12th October. I stubbed it out and promptly slapped on a nicotine patch. It’s a 16mg patch and it is helping me cope. I’m having insane cravings and could cheerfully smoke an entire pack in one sitting. I won’t though, I’ve come this far and I know from giving up the last time that the first week is the hardest and it does get easier.

I’m strong, motivated and determined so I know I’ll crack it. It helps that literally no one smokes these days and that winter is coming. There’s nothing more motivational than shivering in gale force freezing winds, sucking on a damp fag.

There’s nothing more motivational than not having breath like Fag Ash Lil. There’s nothing more motivational than extra pennies in your purse. Apart from the dreadful cravings, there’s nothing bad about giving up. It’s all good.

Fag Ash Lil
Fag Ash Lil

Everyone has triggers, times when things happen or they’re in situations that trigger the cravings. My triggers are going to the pub and feeling stressed. I threw myself in at the deep end, and on day 2 of being smoke free I went for a very boozy night out with friends. Didn’t smoke, wanted to, but there was no one in our group I could bum one off, so I stuck a brave face on and had a great time.

I’ve had another rough few days, so many hospital appointments, so many questions about my mental health and if I’m a danger to myself and others (fear not, I’m no danger to anyone). After each appointment I’ve been desperate to spark one up. I didn’t though. I had some sugar-free chewing gum and viciously rubbed my nicotine patch, hoping it would send some more of my current favourite drug coursing through my system.

I’m really proud of coming this far and I know I’ll do it. Once I get through the first few weeks with their intense cravings I’ll start thinking about dropping the patch. But baby steps first. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves shall we.

Please do follow my journey, I’ll be writing a weekly update on my progress throughout Stoptober. If you want to join me you can find a range of tools and guidance on how to quit smoking during Stoptober and beyond here.


Today is Quit Day

I don’t want to give up smoking. I really, truly, genuinely love it. But today is quit day and this needs to happen.

I love the way it makes me smell. I love standing outside in the wind and the rain. I love forking out a small fortune on cigs. I love the potential health risks, the bad breath, the cough, and the yellow fingers. I love it.

I have my patches, my motivation is high and I’ve got one last fag in the packet. I know I will miss it, probably forever, but the benefits of giving up far, far outweigh the undeniable pleasures of smoking.

This weekend is probably the worst time ever to give up. Three kids parties and a boozy night out beckon. It’ll be a good test. I’m not sure I’m quite ready to be tested so thoroughly but I’ll give it a go.

Wish me luck if for nothing else that getting through all those kids parties.

Update: I’ve smoked my last fag and slapped a nicotine patch on. It was like the parting of two lovers stubbing that fag out. But times change. I need to do this. Let’s do this!

Stoptober Week One

This is the end of week one of Stoptober but strangely it’s only today that my journey begins.

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I started off October with good intentions of cutting down while I waited for my appointment to see the Boots Smoke Less Consultant. But I had a really stressy week and as stress and my mental health were the things that re-started me smoking in July, I thought that cutting down at that time wasn’t the best idea.

I saw the Boots Smoke Less Consultant this morning and as I knew I was meeting her I’ve started to mentally prepare for giving up. I reckon about 90% of what it takes is preparation and willpower, so girding my loins early was only ever going to help.

She ran though the Smoke Less Plan with me and we discussed what my triggers for smoking were (mainly stress and going on nights out). She said as I’d previously been successful giving up and I was smoking a reasonably low amount, (about 10 a day) then there was a good chance of success if I had mentally prepared for it and had the willpower and motivation.

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We talked about nicotine replacement options and she gave me a voucher for £3 off my first purchase which was handy. The last time I gave up in 2004 I used patches for a fortnight which got me through the initial withdrawal. Then I dropped them and took up cross stitch which kept my hands busy. I’ve since stopped cross stitch, but I might take on a small project to keep me busy for a little while.

Then we ran through an action plan. I’ve got 12 cigarettes left, I’m going to smoke them and savour every last drag, then I’m going to try the 16 hour nicotine patches and have some sugar free chewing gum on hand, and the cross stitch, don’t forget the cross stitch!

So tomorrow I’m going to toddle off to Boots and get my patches and stock up on chewing gum. I’ve warned my family that I’m going to be a moody so and so for a little while but I love them really, and I’m going to try and avoid situations where I’d normally smoke or get stressed enough to want a smoke.

My motivation is high and I know I can do it, I’ve got more reasons to give up than I have to carry on, and broadly giving up will help improve my mental health and my general health in the long run.

Please do follow my journey, I’ll be writing a weekly update on my progress throughout Stoptober. If you want to join me you can find a range of tools and guidance on how to quit smoking during Stoptober and beyond here.

Wish me luck and please don’t offer me a light.


Stubbing Out My Dirty Habit – Stoptober

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I smoked at uni, everyone did. Everyone smoked their heads off and drank too much. I had a ruddy fantastic time and I loved smoking, really loved it. We all left uni, found jobs, partners, whole new lives. Gradually everyone in my circle stopped smoking. I gave up in 2004. Not because I wanted to, but because I had to. I’ve missed it ever since but never really regretted giving up.

I’ve had a load of problems this year, two surgeries, very prolonged rehab and now anxiety and depression have taken a grip of me. I started hanging out with a group of new people who smoked, after a couple of drunken nights cadging their fags I went and bought a packet. And another packet and another packet and so on, you get the picture. I’ve now smoked since July this year. I do love it, I enjoy every drag, but I know the party has to end soon. Ideally it has to end now.

With this in mind I was really pleased to be invited to document my Stoptober journey with the help of Boots. I’ve got an appointment with an advisor who will talk me through my options and I’ll get to try a range of products that will help and support me in my mission to stub out my dirty habit for good.

Please do follow my journey, I’ll be writing a weekly update on my progress throughout Stoptober. If you want to join me you can find a range of tools and guidance on how to quit smoking during Stoptober and beyond here.

Thanks for reading.