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12 May 2020

I’m quitting to protect my lungs

At a time when lung health matters more than ever, Sandra explains why she #QuitforCovid.

I always said that I would quit smoking when I was less stressed. That feels quite ironic now. At a time where we’re being asked to stay calm (and more importantly, still) in the face of a global pandemic which poses a threat to ourselves and our loved ones, my usual coping mechanism would always be to reach for my cigarettes. But it’s because of this global pandemic, one that we know could cause harm to our lungs and airways, that I knew things had to change. That’s why I chose to quit smoking.

The kick-start I needed

I’ve smoked on and off for years. I know it’s really bad for me. I’ve had asthma since I was a child, and the smoking certainly made the symptoms worse. I regularly experience breathlessness and need to use my inhaler, but it didn’t seem to motivate me to quit. COVID-19 poses a threat to someone with a lung condition, like me. The government have made it clear that smoking can make symptoms of coronavirus worse and I couldn’t risk making my asthma worse. I also have a new grandchild to think about. This has finally given me the kick-start I needed to quit for good. 

Nipping to the shop is out of the question

I’ve tried various methods to quit smoking before, including nicotine patches and vaping, with little success. But this time I feel like I have more motivation.  I decided to quit without the use of aids, this time, though my daughter pointed me in the direction of a local stop smoking services, as they’re providing remote support via telephone or over video calls. Practically, it’s harder to slip up because I am shielding from the public (my husband has COPD and has been advised to practise social shielding), so nipping to the shop to buy a packet of cigarettes is out of the question. Mentally, I feel stronger and more determined.

I’ve taken it back to basics

I mentioned earlier that my coping mechanisms in the past were to light up a cigarette. Now I’ve taken it back to basics. I’ve learned that instead of damaging my lungs by smoking, I can use all sorts of breathing techniques to help stay in control while under stress. I also used the stop smoking advice I read on the Asthma + Lung UK website, including asking my family for support, removing everything that reminds me of smoking from my house, and calling myself as a non-smoker. 

This is the catalyst

I’d planned to wait till I was less stressed to quit smoking, and I recognise the irony of that in the context of the current crisis. When I think about it, the real irony is that a virus that poses a huge threat to lung health has actually been the catalyst for me to finally clean up mine. 

Do you want to #QuitforCovid like Sandra? At a time when regular routines are disrupted, there's never been a better time to stop smoking.

Help to quit smoking is available through the national Smokefree helpline. Plus, we've got helpful tips and advice on our website.

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12 May 2020