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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 June 2007, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
Quitters' panel: 10 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

Well, it's now less that two weeks until I put out my last cigarette. I'm still trying to cut down, but with so little time left I'm almost smoking as many as I can before I have to quit.

I was out on the town the other night and everybody kept going outside for cigarettes because the place is already non-smoking. I only went with them once or twice, which I was quite happy with. I also went until 6pm without a fag the other night.

I'm in the process of planning the Saturday night, which sees the last clouds of smoke drifting throughout the pub. A box of cigars, a pack of real cigarettes and some throat sweets for the morning after. It's probably not a good idea to smoke loads the day before I stop, but it's the last time I'm going to so I'm giving it a final hurrah.

Quite looking forward to it now, if I'm honest. I feel confident and if I fancy a cigarette, I've just got to be strong and there's no reason I should ever smoke again.

SANDRA GREEN

I'm getting there, but it does seems to be getting harder. I still haven't had a cigarette, but it's hard. I am determined. I don't feel ready to go onto a lower patch yet, but after six weeks I am sure I should and I am frightened of feeling like this forever, although common sense tells me I won't.

It's strange really, I feel fine when I am at work - even though two of my colleagues in the office are still going outside for a smoke. It's when I am at home or out with the family I seem to be bad. My daughter and my friends go outside for a smoke and I still want to go with them, whereas I don't at work.

I do think I'll feel good when the ban comes in and other people start to try and quit. I'm sure I will be thinking "at least I'm past the hard bit". Even though I am struggling at the moment I still think the hardest part is the initial not smoking. For ages the packet I had just bought was always going to be the last one, but I found I needed to buy another packet because I'd had a bad day, was going to have a bad day or was going out for a drink.

For me making that decision and sticking to it is the hardest thing, but not buying a packet when I'd run out then made me feel proud of myself and spurred me on.

RUSSEL HOPPS

Still off the fags and I'm quite proud of myself. It's not always easy but so far I've coped with the cravings.

With the ban approaching, I'm thinking about all those smokers who will be trying to give up and consider what I've achieved.

I was no social smoker, I got through a lot every day and had done for years. I meet people who are amazed when I tell them I've given up. I suppose they never thought I'd manage it.

As I say, it's an on-going battle but I feel as if I am winning. My message to others would be, if I can do it you can too.

REETU KABRA

As the ban gets closer I'm finding myself feeling all the more satisfied with my efforts to give up.

It seems as if current smokers are trying to savour their last few weeks of pub and club cigarettes, but I'm glad I started the process earlier so that it's not such a shock come 1 July .

More and more people seem to be giving the impression they're going to quit and some remain hopelessly in denial.

I've now gone almost 12 weeks without and definitely feeling the benefits. I'm not so tired all the time and people have commented on how my skin looks better. All in all, a good week.


Add your comments on this story, using the form below.

Sandra, get off those patches as quickly as possible. Your cravings should have been diminishing from day three and almost gone by week three. It's the patches that keeping the monster alive, reminding your brain it is addicted to nicotine. The patches can also be psychologically addictive. I gave up in November after a bad cold left me unable to breath and diagnosed with adult on-set asthma for the first time in my life. I have inhalers now but have not had a single cigarette since November 2006. I used patches for a week and a half. Good luck
Brian Taylor, Bournemouth

Nicotine patches are a terrible way to attempt to give up smoking. I tried for years to use that method and it never worked for me. Nor did it work for even one of the countless number of people I know who have tried it. The harsh truth is that you have to go cold turkey. I smoked 30 a day for 15 years and gave up, after tens of dozens of attempts, by going cold turkey.
Andings, Ireland

This worked for me when I stopped smoking - people are at their most determined when facing a foe (human nature) so imagine you have a horrible "nicotine monster" parasite that lives in your body. The craving is your monster/parasite demanding nicotine - feed it and it grows, starve it and it dies. The more you starve it the weaker it gets until it is so weak the craving from the monster stops - but feed it just ONE cigarette and it gets its strength back to torment you again. All the time the parasite is also slowly taking away your health so you MUST defeat it.
Ken, Glasgow

Well done to those of you who've given up. Keep going - it gets easier: I gave up last September having been a heavy smoker for 30 years. I didn't think I'd ever do it and neither did my friends and family. It was hard for the first three months and even now I have the odd "cigarette moment", but I can honestly say that it's the best thing I ever did. I once worked out how many cigarettes I'd smoked and how much I'd spent on them - it was absolutely frightening.
Alison Townsend, Leicester, England

I know it's hard work but keep at it. I went thru the trauma three years ago. I was smoking 60 a day and just gave it up with help from my local chemist. It was hell for the first few months but in the end I managed to get thru it and I know I am so much healthier. I had been smoking since I was 12 years old and had been smoking 45 years.
Graham Bridge, Leominster

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