Building a life without smoking

Janet gives hope to people with COPD who want to quit smoking.

We all know that if you smoke and have a lung condition, kicking the habit is the most important thing you can do to help stay healthy. But often people with lung conditions like COPD aren't very mobile and may struggle to get out to see their GP.

I'm a Whittington Health specialist stop smoking advisor. I work within the NHS stop smoking team in Islington, and part of my job is to help support people with COPD who want to quit smoking but aren't able to leave the home. I visit them where they live, bringing along all the tools they need at a time that suits them to make sure they still receive the support they need.

Quitting with the help of a stop smoking advisor can be the difference between staying smoke-free or going back to smoking. Giving up can be very difficult, especially when you find it hard or impossible to get out and about.

Many people think they can't possibly stop, but I've worked with many people with COPD who have been able to beat their addiction and I believe there's hope for everyone. Some people have smoked all their lives and find it difficult to think of a life without cigarettes.

We take it one step at a time, deciding on what medication would be best for them, setting a quit date and thinking about all the things they will gain from stopping smoking. Having a good relationship with the people I support is really important. I need them to see that I am on their side, that I understand how hard it is for them and that I can offer them advice and medications to overcome their cravings. 

Although they're the one quitting, I help them cope without cigarettes. This might include changing a morning routine if that’s when they'd would have their first cigarette, or removing all smoking related items from the home.

I can also support any friends or relatives who want to stop smoking, which is really important for people with COPD. They should not be exposed to any form of smoke, including second-hand smoke from the people they live with or socialise with. It can be challenging to keep people motivated, but it's also so rewarding to support so many people and see the difference that quitting smoking makes to their lives. 

People tell me that they're feeling so much better, have more energy and can do things they struggled with before. When someone says "I could not have done this without you," it all feels so worthwhile.

This month is Stoptober and I'm promoting the campaign to the people I support, as well as their friends and relatives. If you stop smoking for 28 days you are five times more likely to stop for good. It may be towards the end of October but it’s not too late to quit - why not take up the 28 day challenge?

If you want support to quit smoking, you can check out our stop smoking information or call our helpline on 03000 050 555


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28 October 2014