“I was smoking up to 20 cigarettes a day at a cost of over £70 a week.”

15th March 2023
Andrea McCloskey

Cardiac Support Worker, Andrea McCloskey, who began smoking at the age of 38, has detailed how she managed to stop smoking after 10 years so she can help others quit the habit.

The Smoking Cessation Team at the South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust is marking No Smoking Month, by offering advice and support to those who want to stop smoking, with this year’s theme being ‘Make March Your Month to Quit’.

In September 2022, Andrea contacted the team for advice on how to begin her smoking cessation journey and with a level of determination, she started Nicotine Replacement Therapy. The team recommended the Replacement Therapy for a total of 12 weeks, however by December 2022, Andrea felt confident and after 6 weeks of Replacement Therapy, she has not smoked since. Incredible!

Growing up with parents who smoked, Andrea said, “I hated the smell of smoke, especially in our home. I began smoking socially when I was about 38, as all of my friends were smokers, I then ended up smoking all of the time, especially in my previous job as I did shift work and my colleagues were also smokers.”

“Throughout my journey I really had tried to quit on a number of occasions but always failed, I think I had tried to stop smoking previously but this was to please others and I didn’t have the motivation to do it for myself.

“As I now work as part of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Team, this change in working environment definitely opened my eyes.  I saw first-hand the effects smoking can have on your heart health. I now work with colleagues who do not smoke and this made me realise how much I was actually smoking per day, so I took this as an opportunity to quit.”

Andrea insists the Smoking Cessation Service is very encouraging. The team was on hand to provide Andrea with helplines which she could contact for further support and stay in regular contact with members of the team via text message; something she found particularly helpful if she felt that she was having a difficult day.

When asked about how much she used to smoke Andrea said, “Looking back now, I was smoking nearly a full packet of cigarettes a day, at a cost of over £70 a week, so this added cost really encouraged me to quit smoking. After the six weeks on Nicotine Replacement Therapy, I knew the craving was gone. I also didn’t want to replace smoking with using a vape as a replacement to cigarettes.”

Since stopping smoking, Andrea has noticed a change in her appearance, such as clearer skin and better dental health.

Speaking about the advice she would give to someone thinking about stubbing out their cigarettes for good, she said, “Initially I was really worried feeling judged as I had attempted to stop several times before,  however the team was really motivating and there are plenty services available to help you on your journey.

“My biggest fear of trying to quit smoking was not wanting to let others down and fail. So in September last year, I made the decision that once and for all I was going to quit smoking. My husband was absolutely delighted for me and was really supportive. I have been able to save the money I would have spent on cigarettes and used this for a holiday which I thoroughly enjoyed!”

Health Development Specialist, Shirley McClelland added, “Smoking prevalence in Northern Ireland remains the highest throughout the UK at 17%. Treatment of tobacco dependency is one the most highly effective interventions available in health care. By supporting smokers to quit, Stop Smoking Services are helping the individual, their families and reducing future pressures on Acute and Community Trusts.”

The Stop Smoking Team at the South Eastern Trust can offer help and advice to quit. For further information please contact smoking.cessation@setrust.hscni.net.

More information can be accessed at www.stopsmokingni.info.