Stoptober: Karen celebrates one year smoke free

Published: 22 September 2022

Brokern cigarette

Karen urges other smokers in Derby to join the Council’s Livewell service to get support.

When Karen Newsham lost her job just over a year ago she realised she had to quit smoking to afford to put food on the table for her and her 19-year-old son.

Smoking 40 a day for 41 years, Karen had tried countless times to quit over the years but had always relapsed.

The 51-year-old from Alvaston is celebrating one-year smoke free thanks to Livewell’s support and free treatments and is urging Derby people to join the free service to boost their chances of quitting successfully during Stoptober

The 28-day Stoptober challenge takes place during October and is based on research that shows if you can stop smoking for 28 days, you are five times more likely to stay smoke-free for good.  And people who get expert support from local stop smoking services like Livewell are up to three times as likely to succeed.

Karen explains why she decided to quit and talks about the support she received:

With a dependent son still at college and bills rising, giving up smoking was really important for our family income.

I have fibromyalgia, chronic kidney disease (CKD) and walking upstairs was leaving me gasping for breath.  Even without the financial pressures, it felt the right time to quit.

I’d used a stop smoking medicine called Champix with Livewell’s support previously so was concerned that the treatment was no longer available.  I hadn’t got on with nicotine patches before so was reluctant to try.

My advisor, Andy encouraged me to give them a go and explained how they could be used in conjunction with other treatments such as a vape which I bought myself.

Andy supported me at every step, checking in with me regularly at the start and then monthly once I’d finished the course of patches.  Just knowing he was there if I needed him kept me going.  His text messages made me feel proud and even though I didn’t need the support after a few months, it was reassuring to get a message.  

I found ways to beat the cravings and surprised myself with how soon I felt free of the dependency. 

Life is different for me now.  I’m saving hundreds of pounds a month which helps pay the bills, I feel better in myself and know that my body is repairing - I’ve halved my risk of having a heart attack for example.

My family can’t believe I’ve kicked the habit but they are so proud.  I’m sharing my story to let smokers know that if I can quit after all these years of heavy smoking then you can too.  If I inspire just one person to stub out a cigarette for good during Stoptober then it will be worth it.  There’s no going back for me now!”

Livewell advisor, Andy Varney added:

Karen has done amazingly well this last year. At first she was nervous about using the patches and her family doubted her, but she showed real determination to quit and stay smoke free even when her stress levels increased. I am so chuffed for Karen and I hope she is proud of what she’s achieved.”

Inspired to quit?

Livewell offers free support and up to 10 weeks of free Nicotine Replacement Therapy products (patches, gum, lozenges and mouth spray) to Derby residents. To find out more and book a phone appointment to get started, visit the Livewell website.

Karen’s top tips

  • Take up a hobby to keep your hands busy – I started making bath bombs!
  • Replace your tobacco rewards for something different – I used to light up every time I finished a bit of housework, now I enjoy a cuppa instead.
  • Try relaxation techniques to beat cravings – I do deep breathing exercises for 3-4 minutes.
  • Don’t have ‘just one cigarette’, not even a puff – it will probably lead to smoking more.
  • Get support – use a service like Livewell and share your quit with family and friends so they can encourage you.  Smokefree also has a Facebook support group.
  • Track your progress – use the NHS Quit Smoking app to see how much you’re saving and download Livewell’s quit calendar to keep a record of your smoke free days.
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