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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 June 2007, 10:29 GMT 11:29 UK
Quitters' panel: 16 days to go
Our panel of readers want to kick the habit with the ban on smoking in enclosed public places looming in England. So, how are they doing?

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

This week I've begun to feel the effects of changing my tobacco to one with much less nicotine. I've found myself craving a fag, which doesn't usually happen. I'm being strong and I'm doing my best not to compensate by smoking more.

The ban is beginning to feel more imminent now, with just over two weeks left. I am being forced to start thinking about how I'm going to do it. I'm optimistic and a little excited about being free from having to worry whether I have enough money for my next pack of cigarettes.

A lot of my friends are beginning to get behind me and quite a few are taking small bets on whether I'm going to do it. It's quite helpful really because it's giving me the incentive to prove them wrong, as well as quit.

Each week gets harder as I cut down, but each week I feel like I want to do it more. I even feel like putting it down before I planned to, but I shall quit when I said I would. Hopefully it should go like clockwork.

SANDRA GREEN

I've had a really good week. I'm getting a lot of praise which is boosting me up. Got the cough though, which at times makes me feel like I am still smoking - especially in the morning.

A girl in the next office is trying to stop and I find myself giving her help. She phones me in the evening if she's getting desperate and I talk to her while it passes. I am not using the inhalator as much now, although I still have it with me. Sometimes I just use the inhalator without a capsule in it.

People are now commenting on how much healthier my hair is looking, so that's another good thing. But my skin is not so good at the moment, I am told that will get better.

I don't really have any thoughts about the looming ban. I feel it's coincidental that it's happening now, when the reason I have decided to stop is to enable me to buy a new car. I feel so good when I blow into the carbon breath test at the doctors and see my reading has gone down.

RUSSEL HOPPS

I'm still not smoking and for the first time I think I can honestly say I have broken the back of the cravings. I will always fancy a smoke, but I can easily deal with those urges now. It's not such a fight anymore.

I'm off the patches as well and feel as if I have turned a corner. It is not a constant battle anymore and that feels good, as if I'm winning and not the fags.

It's only a few weeks until the ban comes into force and that will make things even easier. I still like the smell of a burning cigarette and that's when I get tempted, but when they're banned from public places that won't be such a problem. It will be a case of out of sight, out of mind.

My efforts have even spurred a few other people I know to give up. These are people like me, who are in their 60s and have smoked most of their lives. It makes me feel good knowing I have helped others.

REETU KABRA

This week has had its highs and lows. One thing that's been great is the fact I've been really busy and enjoying my work and have had very little time to think about smoking.

However, I went to a party on Saturday where 80% of people were smoking and after a few drinks I was really tempted to ask for one. I didn't.

While it is getting easier as time goes on from the day I stopped, there's still psychological balancing that needs to be done so that when I'm in tempting situations I feel less inclined to smoke.

I'm looking forward to the ban now as I think this aspect will become a lot easier.


Below is a selection of your comments.

I know a friend who had been smoking since he was a teenager. He decided to quit after 10 years of smoking. It was difficult at the beginning, but he reduced the amount of cigarettes he had - for example, rather than having the cigarettes every hour of the day, he controlled his craving and would not give in until the next hour. Thus, rather than have 24 cigarettes a day, he reduced to 12, and eventually, achieved his goal.
Jenny, London

It has been 15 weeks since I gave up with the help of patches from my chemist. Staff were really were helpful. Every week I had to go back and be tested for carbon etc and get more patches. I have put on a little weight but only about 1/2 stone. I want to be a non-smoker after 30 years of about 40 a day. Good luck, keep at it.
Val Gibbs, London

I tried to quit without success until one night I realised that I could walk, talk, swim, study, speak three languages, sing, laugh etc, and that this piece of paper in my hand stuffed with an addictive poison could do none of those things but was ruining both my health and my pocket book. I was disgusted with my lack of courage. Then I decided I would be the boss and quit for ever. As I live in smoke-free Delaware I can also enjoy my evenings out without the smell, the coughs, the dirty ashtrays, the litter of cigarette butts.
Peter Williams, Newark, Delaware, US

A lot of fuss is made about how difficult it is to give up when really it's very easy. There are many factors which come together to build a perception of enjoyment of a cigarette, but none of this enjoyment is actually real. Giving up is hard because of our sub-conscious fears. I did and it was easy and I've never looked back.
Kevin Bray, Essex

I quitted two and a half weeks ago and I'm having an awful time. I feel sad and miserable and I want to kill my friends when they light a fag in front of me. There are positive things though. I've recovered the senses of smell and taste, which is good. I'm going through a very bad time, but I know it will pass and everything will be good in the end. Oh, I'm using nicotine patches and inhalator. I'm missing holding the ciggie almost as much as the nicotine.
Carlos Fernandez, London

I gave up smoking four months ago. It was hard in the beginning but gets easier - breaking your routine of going for a cigarette break is the hardest thing to break. I did it by going for a walk instead, that way you're getting exercise so less likely to put on weight. I'm now just unsure how I'm going to break my walking-break habit.
Kathryn, Norfolk

I gave up 12 years ago whilst in hospital for two weeks with sciatica in my right leg. I was on constant painkillers and smoking 40 a day because of the sciatica. I was taught self-hypnosis and relaxation techniques to come off the painkillers. The major side effect was that it also helped me to give up smoking. This was in 1995 and at a New Year party I was offered a celebration cigar, I tried it and within five minutes I was physically sick. I have not smoked at all since and now live with the sciatica without painkillers. Maybe if more self-help therapy were on offer for addictions like smoking it would be much easier for people to give up. People need to have a goal besides just giving up the fags, and stopping the painkillers and getting on with my life was mine.
Steve Hart, Skelmersdale, Lancashire UK




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