Mother-of-one Karen Butler says quitting smoking has drastically improved her health and is urging others to seek support.
The 58-year-old, of Milton, smoked 18 cigarettes a day for 45 years before being able to stub out the habit. After receiving support, she celebrated being 12 months smoke-free in August this year.
Following a period of time off work with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – a disease that in nine out of ten cases is caused by smoking according to the NHS – Karen’s manager referred her to the workplace smoking cessation service.
Karen said: “I tried to quit smoking a few years ago but ended up starting up again – one cigarette always turns into another, and so on.
“My stop-smoking practitioner has been brilliant. At the beginning, I saw him once a week and he helped me to see that my stress wasn’t going to go away by smoking and offered me practical advice to combat my habit.
“I also used nicotine patches and mints to help me quit. I now use a vape and sometimes the mints if I still need to.”
Karen is now encouraging others to sign up for Public Health England’s annual Stoptober campaign to get the support they need to quit.
She said: “Quitting smoking has been one of the best things I’ve done. I haven’t had a chest infection since quitting and I rarely cough. My oxygen levels and lung capacity have improved massively.
“I feel like a new person – I’ve found healthier ways to manage my stress and when I do have tough days, I know I can still access support.
“I would urge any smoker to get some support and give up – if I can do it after 45 years, anybody can.”
Stoptober is an annual, national campaign that encourages smokers across England to make a quit attempt during October. It is based on the insight that if you can go smoke-free for 28 days, you are five times more likely to be able to stay quit for good.
In Stoke-on-Trent, 20.7 per cent of adults (aged 18 and over) currently smoke compared to the national average of 14.4 per cent. In addition, 17.6 per cent of pregnant women smoke compared to the national average of 10.6 per cent.
But thanks to the support available in the city, from April 2018 to March 2019, 2,069 people set a quit date and 1,518 were successful (for four weeks or longer).
Councillor Randy Conteh, the city council’s cabinet member for communities and safer city, and chair of Smokefree Stoke-on-Trent, said: “Stopping smoking is the best thing a smoker can do for their health, and it’s fantastic news that Karen has seen a real difference in her health and has been able to quit with the support of the stop-smoking service.
“I would urge anyone wishing to quit to make use of the support available – at any time of the year, not just during Stoptober.”
Councillor Lorraine Beardmore, the city council’s cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure, said: “Karen’s story is really inspiring – it shows that with willpower and the right support in place, anyone can give up smoking.
“I would encourage any smoker to seek the support and advice from stop-smoking services.”
Smoking can have devastating consequences for expectant mothers and their babies, increasing the chance of babies being born too small and too early. The good news is quitting is one of the best things pregnant mums can do – the harmful chemicals immediately start to reduce, meaning babies can grow and develop normally.
There is a range of support available locally, including face-to-face help and advice, the ‘Smokefree’ app, quit kit, email and text programme.
You can also call 0800 085 0928 or text ‘Stokequit’ to 60777.
Stoptober has also created free online Personal Quit Plan to help smokers find the support that’s suitable for them, based on their level of tobacco dependency and any quitting support used previously.
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