Smoking nearly killed me
Tom talks about the shock that made him stop smoking.
I gave up smoking 40 years ago - after it nearly gave me up.
I was only 24 at the time, and I’d been smoking for 10 years already. One day I fell asleep without putting my cigarette out properly.
That cigarette caused a house fire. And that fire caused irreparable damage to my lungs.
It gave me so much pain. Long after the wounds had healed, my lungs were so damaged that it was hard for me to breathe.
I carried on working as a salesperson, but it became too stressful and I had to go back to my original trade at an engineering firm. Despite living with a lung condition, I hardly had any time off work.
Since retiring, though, I've found it hard to get motivated. That's when I discovered pulmonary rehabilitation. It's a class that combines exercises designed to help people with lung conditions, and education on how to look after my lungs.
I met Bev and Sue from the British Lung Foundation through the class, who really helped me. And I made friends with others there too. I could talk to people who also had breathing problems, and we could share our experiences.
There's a local gym that I was able to use, where I could do light exercises to maintain my health. It's all made me feel better.
Having COPD is horrible. It makes me feel out of breath so often. It's exhausting at times.
Giving up smoking can be really hard. If someone is struggling and asks for my advice, I say: 'you can and you will - because if you don't, the smoking might give you up one day'. I tell them to persevere, because the benefits are enormous.
I'm supporting the Every Breath campaign by Fresh North East, which seeks to encourage people to stop smoking with support from their local stop smoking service.
Check out our information and advice on smoking and how you can quit.