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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 May 2007, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
Quitters' panel: 38 days to go
With just 38 days until the ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces in England, the Magazine is tracking four smokers on their efforts to quit the habit. But why did they start?

Dave Chapman

Dave Chapman is 22, works for a logistics company and lives in Rickling Green, Essex.
His story

Sandra Green

Sandra Green is 48 and an admin assistant from Dronfield, Derbyshire.
Her story

Reetu Kabra
Reetu Kabra is 24 and a publicist who lives and works in London.
Her story
Russel Hopps

Russel Hopps is 65 and a funeral director from Manchester.
His story

DAVE CHAPMAN

I started smoking properly in my first year at college, when I was 16. I have no idea why I started on a regular basis, however I remember having the odd puff throughout my GCSEs as I was led to believe it reduced exam stress.

When I got to college everybody was doing it, it seemed like the done thing and I didn't want to feel left out. I hid it from my parents for a long time, but inevitably it came out. Maybe I started as the usual rebellious teenager defying his parents, but for whatever reason I never stopped and it's become habit.

Since leaving college I've not had the best of jobs. I worked at a well-known video rental shop which gave me a lot of free time, so smoking picked up. I then moved on to being a pub barman which meant I could virtually get paid to chain smoke.

Now a days I'm in an office and the idea of a cigarette in the morning and then one in the afternoon breaks up the day. The thought of working with only a lunch break isn't nice, but I will quit and I will have to do it. Especially as it's being banned from the whole site next week.

SANDRA GREEN

I was 11 when I started smoking. My friend and I decided we would like to try it as all the big kids seemed to do it.

My friend's granddad used to send her to the local shop for his cigarettes, so we were able to get them without anyone taking too much notice. We used to go in a disused barn to smoke.

When I was 12 I went to a local youth club with another friend. Our parents gave us money for a bottle of pop and a chocolate bar or a packet of crisps. Instead we use to pool our money and buy 10 cigarettes and a box of matches, pay our sixpences to get in and buy Polos for the way home.

There was a certain amount of peer pressure to smoke. One of my big regrets is putting pressure on a girl that used to knock around with us to smoke. She didn't really want to but did and when I see her now she is never without a cigarette and admits to smoking up to 60 a day.

RUSSEL HOPPS

I've been smoking for 51 years and started when I was about 14 years old. Back then the health implication weren't known. It was something everyone did, it was normal.

When I was younger I worked abroad a lot and the cigarettes were so cheap. I could afford as many as I wanted, so I bought and smoked as many as I wanted.

I'd even smoke some of the local cigarettes. They were horrible and had cloves in them, but they were cheap and available and that's all that mattered to me.

After smoking for that long it is hard to give up, but I'm trying and I'm doing OK. I'm just taking it one day at a time.

REETU KABRA

I had my first ever cigarette when I was 15, I was in a pub with some school friends and I hated it.

A few years later when I started university I realised lots of my fellow students smoked, so I tried it again, mainly for the ridiculous reason that everyone else was doing it so I would too. It was almost a way of bonding with new people.

Obviously I knew the health implications at the time I had my first few cigarettes, but when you're in those early stages of smoking, you don't really think that you're actually going to become addicted. You just think you'll smoke for a couple of years as a student and grow out of it - but I didn't.

Four years after leaving university many of my friends are still smoking, albeit a lot less that we did. But for me it's got to be all or nothing, otherwise there's no point.


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