Age at interview: 50
Brief Outline: Angela, 50, works in customer services. She is White British, divorced and lives with her daughter. Angela started smoking when she was 10/11. She noticed that some friends then stopped but she didn’t. Later she gave up with the help of a smoking cessation worker at work and found that the medication Varenicline helped her to give up.

More about me...

Angela started smoking when she was ten or eleven by pinching cigarettes from her mum’s purse. She said that ‘back then’ you could get money for recycling bottles and could then use the money to buy cigarettes in ones and twos from a newsagent who would put them in with your sweets. Angela started smoking because everybody around her was and got over the ‘nastiness’ of it in around a week. She didn’t like the ‘stop smoking’ adverts, but felt bad for only a ‘split second’ then didn’t think about it. She remembers when she was younger you could ‘smoke anywhere’. Even more recently, at her place of work there used to be a shelter outside. She thinks that ‘doctors and everybody blame everything on smoking’ but she just ‘got on with it’ when she smoked. She can remember that Vera Duckworth from Coronation Street talking in a documentary about her respiratory problems ‘hit home’, but she still continued to smoke.

‘Years ago’ Angela gave up smoking for three years, but had just one cigarette when something happened with her aunty and she was hooked again. At one point she needed a knee operation and the surgeon told her that it was better for her to try and stop. She thought ‘they put everything on smoking’ and thought that a lot of people who smoke think like that. She decided to give up as she ‘just didn’t want to do it anymore’. She didn’t want to feel panicked when she left the house without cigarettes and didn’t want her fingers to be ‘brown’ and her teeth to be ‘terrible’. She thinks that it ‘should have been a health thing’ but she was only enjoying a few of the cigarettes she had in a day.

Angela did try to give up when she was living with her brother, but she was going through a stressful period. At work, there was a group set up to try and help people stop smoking. She thinks her workplace was good because they gave their workers somewhere to go and get help. She went every week and she tried ‘all sorts’ until she ‘got stuff that worked for’ her. She first went to a group and then worked individually with a smoking cessation worker. Angela was glad that she worked individually as when she wasn’t doing so well she felt she would be embarrassed in a group. She liked the support worker as she never gave up on her and encouraged her.

Angela tried patches ‘for about a week’. She tried ‘everything’ but still wanted to smoke. Then she tried varenicline (Champix) and continued to smoke for two weeks as advised, and then stopped. At first she found the medication made her felt sick, but then took the tablets with a handful of nuts and found this improved things. She discovered she didn’t want a cigarette, but just ‘thought’ that she did. She doesn’t think she will ever smoke again as it was ‘such a hard struggle’ to give up. She thinks quitting is great as she ‘doesn’t smell’ and can ‘smell her own perfume’. However she said that at first she felt ‘terrible’ for about six weeks, and has developed irritable bowel syndrome which she thinks is connected to giving up smoking. She has put some weight on, so she still feels the ‘out-of-breath thing’ that she experienced with smoking because of the extra weight. She says her skin feels softer, but that is the only positive effect she has noticed. She wanted to have a lot more energy, but she hasn’t found it has happened yet. She is ‘dreading’ not seeing her smoking cessation worker. She chats about her weight with her and just ‘chats’ generally. Angela found that she wasn’t judged by this worker who was ‘still there’ even when she appeared to be failing, and she doesn’t necessarily have to give advice but just to ‘be there’.

She tells other people to ‘try everything out there’ to stop, but it has to be a personal decision. She likes not to be ‘relying’ on ‘this thing’ and enjoys feeling that she isn’t dependent on it anymore.

Angela said she felt terrible for the first six weeks after giving up smoking; she thought this might be because she was getting rid of toxins. Her sense of smell improved and she gained some unwelcome weight.

It’s great. Apart from weight. It’s great to think I don’t smell. And I can smell my own perfume which you can’t before [laugh] and my hair doesn’t smell anymore and my clothes and that’s nice. I like that.

What other changes have you noticed after you’d given up smoking?

You’re probably not going to like this, but I felt terrible for about six weeks. Terrible. I haven’t coughed, no. People said that you cough stuff. The cough things. Well I haven’t done anything like that. I’ve never really been, had a cough when I smoked and I haven’t done anything like that but I’ve felt terrible, as though I could sleep for ever, I couldn’t do this, I just, just generally don’t feel very well. But I’m just coming out of that now where I feel a bit better.

I don’t know people have said that its, all toxins, all the badness coming of you and things like that, but I haven’t felt very well. It’s not you’ve stopped smoking you feel great. Because you don’t. I’m only just starting and that’s like four months. Three months, four months, I can’t remember. Starting to feel all right.

When Angela discussed having knee surgery, she was told it would be better if she didn’t smoke. She felt that, then and subsequently, smoking has been unfairly associated with other health conditions.

And you were saying some time ago when you were thinking about having a knee operation….


That they don’t operate on people who are smokers. Did you say that or ..? Or is that just what you heard or …?

No, they don’t. I think I must have, when the surgeon said to me, “You know, you have to try and stop.” But I don’t think he said that he wouldn’t. I think he said, you know, it’s better for you to try and stop.

And what did you think about that?

Well to be honest what I thought were blooming heck they put everything on smoking, every condition is like eh smoking, smoking, they’re just making it as an excuse. That’s what I thought. And I would imagine that’s what a lot of people think is that. Oh God. Every time it comes down to smoking and I don’t whether it don’t, I don’t know whether people just say it.

Yes. I guess you got quite a bit of sort of health advice off him, can you remember getting any other sort of health advice and how you felt about it as a smoker?

No, not really. I know at one doctor’s. I’m not quite sure where it were, because I’ve had to move doctors since I’ve moved. It weren’t at this one, but they were doing a survey and I’m sure they weren’t going to accept as many people who smoked. Because they are running the risk of the… yes… Whether they were just doing this survey, and that’s what they were saying, whether they brought it in, I don’t know. But I suppose it’s like giving somebody a new, an alcoholic, a new liver and I’m still drinking. Its, you’ve got to take a bit of responsibility for yourself haven’t you.

And how did you feel about that as a smoker?

No. To me, it was just like ooh it’s another thing to do with smoking.

Did you even feel a bit resentful of it or…?

No. Because… [laughs]. No, because that’s it. It’s just like no matter what you do, it’s because you smoke. It’s not necessarily always that that is it?

When Angela stayed with her brother, she noticed that because he and his girlfriend were non-smokers their house smelled nice; this was one of the reasons she resolved to stop smoking.

But I don’t think I’ve ever been ill with the smoking and that, so it were just a choice, more than anything, because my teeth were getting terrible, my fingers were getting brown and… I lived, before I lived here, I lived with my brother for a while, because of some upset that I’d had. So I lived with my brother and his girlfriend and they don’t smoke. So I went outside for a fag, but the house, you know, they didn’t have to have spray things, because it just smelt nice. And when I came back in from having a fag, because nothing smelled apart, you know, the cooking things and that, I could smell my own, which you can’t really smell yourself, and I could smell it because like covered, I brought, and they, they never said anything. But I could smell it myself and it was horrible. So that did me a world of good, just living with them for a bit. I don’t if that makes any difference to anybody but [laughs].

You’re right, it’s how you …

Yes, and it’s like they don’t smell. And it’s like... So I’d have a dressing gown, so that I’d get up in morning and my dressing gown smelt, you know, and theirs didn’t, and it was like oh I want to be like them [laughs]. So, but there’s all kind of different things.

What were the other sort of things?

I don’t know. I mean money. Like I say. Well it were becoming an issue because I’d got to cut my belt whatever you say…

Cut right back?

Because I knew I’d got this place. But... and it weren’t so much a health thing. It were just a, I don’t want to do it anymore. Do you know, I just don’t want to do it anymore. I don’t want to, because you get, it’s like you were… if I walked out of house and I didn’t have my cigarettes it would be a panic thing, oh I haven’t got any cigarettes and you’ve got to go to a shop and you’ve got to get this and it a panic and you’re dependent on that. And your life, your day cannot go without you’ve got your cigs and lighter. And you go into a panic. I didn’t want to do that anymore [laughs].

Yes. Yes. I just didn’t want to. I mean my daughter she doesn’t smoke and I just didn’t want it, I didn’t want to smell and... that’s it [laughs]. That’s really basically it, it weren’t so much a, it should have been a health thing, but, and when you’re smoking that many there’s only a few of the cigarettes that you enjoy. The rest you just smoke and you just think oh God. There is only a few that you actually enjoy.

Angela thinks that things have gone from one extreme to another: first being able to smoke everywhere, then making it very difficult to smoke.

Well you could smoke anywhere really. Anywhere. And then they just changed it to upstairs on buses didn’t they? So they were…. it’s made like a social life not very good for good for most people and it really, you know, for smokers and non smokers, because you can go out in a crowd, what I understand, you can go out in a crowd, and if everybody smokes then you’re left in pub on your own. You know. So it’s not nice for both smokers and non smokers. I don’t think it’s done…

And are you finding that now?

Yes, yes.

So a lot of your friends still smoke outside?

Hm. And you’re sort of just stood like, so you’ll drink more than them [laugh]. So then I’m going to have another problem. But I remember when I still smoked and my daughter like, she’s never smoked, but she said one of the things that she noticed where you can smell, instead of stale cigs, fags masking everything, and you go into a pub you can smell the stale beer and things, and she said she didn’t know which is nice… you know, which is worse. So… I don’t, I’ve never noticed that, you know, because one just stops smoking, so… [Laughs].

But yes, you can, you can’t really smoke anywhere. At our work, we used to have what we called a bus shelter what you smoked in, but they’ve had to take some windows out, because you can only have so many. So you were there smoking, freezing and the winds coming in from where you would have been protected before and it was like… I don’t know. You can’t smoke anywhere, whereas before you could smoke everywhere. They’ve gone from one extreme to other and it’s not really stopping anybody from smoking is it? [Laughs].

And how did you feel about all those changes when you were a smoker?

Well I didn’t like them, but to be honest, because doctors and everybody blames everything on smoking, it’s just another thing that you have, you just get on with it, because it’s all to do with smoking. So, they’re going to blame smoking for everything so just get on with it and continue smoking.

So it’s more like a sort of inconvenience?

Yes, yes, it’s just like another thing that they’re trying to do to stop you from smoking.

Angela thought that ‘all the campaigning in the world’ wouldn’t stop someone who wanted to smoke.

You know, basically when you sort of get. You know, when kids start smoking they don’t really know. But when you’re like a hardened smoker or, you know, all these things, you know that they’re bad for you, you know that they’re going to clog your arteries, they know that they give lung cancer, and you know you can die. And I mean that woman on Coronation Street who has to have that tank, I forgot her, Vera.

Yes, that’s the one.

You know all this. But you still like to smoke. I know you don’t like to smoke, like, and most people agree with me, you’ve got a packet of 20 and you’ve smoke all them, there’s not all of them 20 that you enjoy all day. But there is four or five that you do. And so all the campaigning in the world, and all the stopping smoking, and all the ‘don’t do this’, and ‘you’re not doing it here’. You’re still going to smoke, because you enjoy it. And most people it’s when they’ve had enough their selves like me. I mean lots of people that you know, doctors or surgeons will say if you don’t stop smoking, you don’t live to when people stop then, but mainly you smoke because you want to and you like it, and it doesn’t matter what you say [laughs] or what you do, or how much money you put on them fags, that’s going to stop you from smoking.

Angela valued the one-to-one support she received at her work; she did attend a smoking cessation group years ago.

Years ago when I went to a smoking cessation thing and it was a group thing, it was for six or eight weeks and that was it. And what’s all that about you know? You’re still needing help after that six, eight weeks and like but with [name of smoking cessation woman] its, even if you’ve failed you’re still going to see her, and she doesn’t condemn you, she doesn’t say, “Oh well, eight weeks is up now. You either stop or you don’t.” Because that’s what you felt like with that before. She’s still there, yes, and I never want to stop seeing her [laughs]. I don’t. But, so people who are struggling, are still getting that bit of, you know, like I say if it was six to eight weeks. I remember me and my friend went to one and it were down at some fitness club and it were for eight weeks.

How long ago was that?

About four years ago, four or five years ago.

And did you just sort of see it and drop in or…?

I think it were through doctor, because they have groups at doctors don’t they but if you can’t make them, then they will choose another one which were nearer or you know, night time or things, and  we went there. And we were great with group and then it finished. Eight weeks. That’s not a lot is it? It’s not a lot time, because if you’re going to go on them Champix, Champix, it takes you, you’ve got to get form and go to your doctors, so that’s a week, a week and a half and then you’re two weeks on your things, that’s another, and then so you’re just starting and it’s done, bye, you’re on your own now.

So was it just the amount of time? Or was it anything else about that group that wasn’t so good?

I think the amount of time yes, and [exhales] I did like the group thing at first, but then so say, it’s only half an hour, who the… you’ve got so many things to say, and the other people, so it’s like getting, I like this one-to-one, I like [name of smoking cessation woman]. I like the one-to-one. And work gives us fifteen minutes, and there’s not a lot of places that, you know, would do that, and they give us fifteen minutes, and sometimes that’s not enough time for your one person, you know, so if you’re in a group and everybody’s wanting fifteen minutes or more there just isn’t enough time so you get, you know, pushed to one, one side.
Text only
Read below

Angela’s partner and friend sent for a stop smoking calendar and stress ball from a website, but she didn’t think it would help her.

Is there anything that you’ve tried giving up smoking looking on the internet?

Well there were that thing weren’t there, that, you could log on and they’d send you a chart and what were that I can’t remember now. Were it National Health?

The Quitline or …?

Something like that, and they’d send you a chart and a DVD or something, and a stress ball. What’s all that about, that’s rubbish? [Laughs]. It is though. It made you stick a chart up and when you’re working and things like that you can’t be bothered, you can’t be doing with things like that.

So did you send off for it at all?

I didn’t, but my partner at the time, he did. And it looks great. I don’t think he ever put it up, he messed about with the stress ball but not for a stress, just…. Oh and my friend [name], she did. She put her chart up. They only follow it for a bit. You know, people want quick easy things. I know it’s hard, but that’s what they want. Quick easy things. They don’t want three months down the line to be putting a sticker on Day 44. I can never get into it.

Like an advent calendar you know, there’s no chocolates at end. Well personally I don’t, that don’t work for me. I don’t know how many people it’s helped. It’s good that they’re trying to do all these things, but it’s just spending money on things that aren’t going to work for the majority of people aren’t they? Like people up in an office and they’re thinking oh this will so work, but they haven’t researched it or owt like that. And they’re spending the money for, well that’s my theory, and I think so many of people did DVDs and things.
Previous Page
Next Page