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Why I Quit - Ex-Smokers Share Their Stories

This is a sample from our ‘Quit Cigarettes’ mission, which is currently live in the UK. Our goal is to increase the amount of people in the UK who quit cigarettes. Read more about our first mission here.

People who have kicked the habit talk about their main motivations and how they’ve stayed smoke-free

You are a non-smoker from the moment you put out your final cigarette. But how do you stay motivated to keep away from ciggies for good? We asked five ex-smokers what made them quit and how they overcame the cravings.

"My Toddler Made Me Quit"

Sally, a 34-year-old librarian, had a wake-up call when a family member passed away.

She said: “When my daughter Meg was nearly three, my mother-in-law, who had been a heavy smoker, died from lung cancer in her early 60s. Meg had been close to my mother-in-law, they spoke on the phone almost every day and she was very upset by her death. She became fretful and anxious as she was worried that I would also die because I smoked. Meg made a pact with me – she would give up her dummy, if I gave up ciggies. We both gave up our bad habits and I’ve never smoked since.”

"I Want My Dream Wedding"

For 24-year-old Jessica, an office worker, money was a key motivation. She realised she couldn’t keep buying fags and save for her big day at the same time.

“I was over the moon when my boyfriend, Alan proposed to me in Mallorca last August,” she said. “Neither of us have much money. I’ve stopped smoking as I can’t afford to smoke and pay for a wedding. I put all the money I save on ciggies into our wedding fund. I used to spend around £13 on ciggies every day and have saved £4,565 since I gave up on September 1 last year, the day after we arrived home from our hols.

"Although I felt a bit jumpy and bad-tempered when I first stopped smoking, I experience fewer symptoms and ciggie cravings now. When I get stressed at work and crave a ciggie the main thing that stops me buying a pack is the thought of me in a beautiful white wedding dress with a long, floaty veil, surrounded by my bridesmaids.”

"My Boyfriend Said I Smelled like an Ashtray" 

Shop assistant Ellie, 24, decided to ditch tobacco after a less than complimentary comment struck a nerve.

She said: “I was a 15-a-day smoker for around six years. My parents and grandparents smoked heavily, so it seemed normal for me to smoke too. Last summer, I went to Glastonbury festival and met Chris, who is a non-smoking vegetarian. We soon discovered that we both live in Leeds and have a lot in common, particularly music, and began seeing each other. 

“It was my birthday last week and Chris gave me some Jo Malone grapefruit flavoured scent – he said my clothes, skin and hair stink like an ashtray and this would make me smell fresher and sexier. I had no idea Chris found me smelly and unsexy and hearing him say this immediately made me want to give up. 

“You honestly only smell ciggie smoke on your clothes and skin if you don’t smoke yourself. Smokers stink and they make everything around them stink too, even if they only smoke outside. I’d never tried to give up before as didn’t think I could do it. It’s now been five days since my last ciggie and Chris says he has noticed my breath already smelling fresher when he kisses me.”

"I Wanted to Be More Professional"

Account executive Kirsty, 30, decided there was no place for her habit in the workplace - or elsewhere.

“I work at an ad agency in Birmingham,” she said. Hardly anyone smokes in my office and I felt like a drug addict sneaking outside to smoke. I gave up smoking three months ago after my line manager called me aside one day and said he’d received a complaint about nasty smoke smells drifting through the windows of first floor offices in our building and stinking the place out. I was so embarrassed that I gave up smoking next day but left three ciggies in the pack.

“On the August Bank Holiday I got a bit bored and smoked them. So my tip is do not keep any ciggies on you or leave any lying around in case of emergency after you quit. It feels great to be a non-smoker. I was a bit grumpy and short-tempered for a while but didn’t relapse again.”

"I Wanted Better Health and More Money"

Twenty-nine-year-old estate agent Sam realised he had nothing to lose and everything to gain by going smoke-free.

He said: “I used Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking book to help me quit and have now been smoke-free for nearly four years. I recommend it to all my friends. It’s packed with useful tips. Carr writes that you need to set a date and time to quit and carry on smoking right up until that time. ‘Remember that ciggies do nothing for you whatsoever – they are bad for your health, are very expensive and keep you addicted, a slave to nicotine.’ 

You are losing nothing by giving them up and are going to make gains in health, energy, money and confidence and going to save a shedload of money which you can spend on clothes and holidays. Ditch the fags – don’t just try to cut down. Vaping is just switching one nicotine addiction for another.”