Age at interview: 41
Brief Outline: Jules, 41, gave up smoking a year ago. He is Welsh, works in a factory, is married and lives with his wife and young daughter. Jules started smoking when he was about 13. By the time he went to college he was smoking regularly. He tried different things to give up including Allen Carr’s book, patches, and medication, but thinks he was only successful when he really wanted to give up.

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Jules started smoking at school with some boys he knew. By the age of 13 he was smoking a cigarette every other day and his Dad was ‘very disappointed’ when he found out. When his Dad produced articles from newspapers about how bad cigarettes were he thought ‘oh, here we go again’. He always knew smoking was ‘bad for you’, and remembered seeing the pictures of lung damage on the back of cigarette packets and being shocked, but also ‘not seeing it’ after a while.

He smoked more regularly at college and, by the time he moved to Cornwall when he was 19, he smoked more and more weed. He remembers ‘nice times’ but finds it difficult to remember the specifics - something he attributes to smoking dope. He preferred smoking weed to drinking alcohol as there was ‘no aggression’ involved. Although he finds it quite weird not to be able to remember particular events, he has no regrets and ‘would do the same again’. He says that he wasn’t physically addicted to weed, but had a psychological dependence. However with tobacco he realised that he would be rushing through his chores to get out, or would have cramps in his stomach when he spent time with his parents and wasn’t smoking. He says it felt like ‘his chest tightening up’. When he was about 20 he gave up smoking for a ‘couple of months’. Jules says that when he was younger his ‘life seemed so long’ and then ‘the next thing you know, you’re in sort of your mid-40s and you see you’re still smoking’. Later in his twenties he had a couple of attempts that ‘only ever lasted sort of a week’. Later he had hypnosis and he believes that this worked only because he did actually want to give up smoking and had paid £100 for ‘the privilege’ of being hypnotized. It ‘worked for a year’. He says that he didn’t feel any different, but the phrase ‘I am a non-smoker and will be a non-smoker for the rest of my life’ is still with him. His downfall after that followed a ‘tragedy in the family’ and it ‘all fell down’ and he started smoking.

He wanted to give up ‘purely and simply for health reasons’ and noticed he was panting going up and down stairs. He gave up for a time but then got ‘sucked back in’ with ‘old friends’. When he met his current partner she smoked, and there was therefore no incentive to give up. However, they both decided to give up on a skiing holiday, but then he started again when he was on his own. He thinks that, because he started smoking in secret, it was easy to start again without telling anyone. Soon after they both started again, but then his partner gave up when she was pregnant and did so ‘virtually immediately’, whereas he gave up only when his daughter was 9 weeks old. He felt that previously if he took risks with his health that it was ‘his life’, but now he had to ‘be there’ for his daughter.

Jules once had medication from his doctor, but only for six weeks, and then the desire to start smoking returned. Allen Carr’s book worked for a week but then the ‘nicotine [won] in the end’. He didn’t do anything in a group as he felt that if he failed you were only ‘letting yourself down’ rather than the ‘perceived support that you’re letting down as well’. His message to people who want to give up smoking is that it is possible if you really want to do it. However, he thinks it can be really patronising when you’re smoking for someone to tell you to give up, as it is likely you will be miserable that you are reliant on ‘this thing’.

Jules’s Dad used to give him articles about the dangers of smoking which he tried to ignore.

My Dad was really disappointed. He lectured me he cut out all sorts of articles from various papers. Whenever there was an article highlighting the dangers of smoking, it would always end up on my place mat on the table. I think for my Dad he, being a vicar, he worked with a lot of, he gave a lot of pastoral care to people who were dying with cancer and terrible illnesses. So he saw what, he saw the results of smoking. And I think he tried to scare me but when you’re young you’ve got your whole life ahead you don’t think about those of things and if you do, you think it’s not going to happen to you.

I can understand why he did it why I continued I don’t know, people know it’s bad for you but they continue to do it.

So when you say you’d come to dinner and there’d be an article on your place mat. Can you remember sort of what you felt about that?

Oh God here we go again [laughs]. And I think, yes, part of me just didn’t want to read it, because I knew smoking was bad for you and although I didn’t understand the science of you know, I don’t know. I think it, when I was a teenager it was well accepted or well known, it was a well known medical fact that smoking contributed to early death. So, yes, I think, I just, I tried to ignore it. And I remember a couple of times, [laughs] sort of pretending to read it, and I was not even reading it, I was just like looking at it. Oh yes, and just put it down. Just to pacify my Dad, so that he felt that he’d done his bit, and then as soon as I’d finished by breakfast and off to school I’d be smoking my cigarette and it’s at the back of my mind. Yes, you’d ignore it.

Jules thought that it wasn’t the method he tried that made the difference, but rather whether he wanted to smoke or not.

I mean at the end of the day, the one thing, I’ve said this before, the one thing that everything will work if you want to give up smoking. If you don’t want to give up smoking it’s not going to work and don’t bother. If you want to give up smoking then, then search it out. Yes, hypnosis was one of my occasions. Allen Carr, was another of my occasions. The tablets was another of my occasions. the patches this time was an occasion. They all worked for a while. While I didn’t want to smoke. But as soon as I felt that I wanted or had a desire to smoke again then it stopped working.

After giving up smoking for only a couple of weeks, Jules already felt the difference in his lung capacity. He felt good that he could say no to a cigarette.

I used to find I used to do the kiting and I used to be able to run around the field with my kite, getting up…. As a smoker there was this slippery hill that getting up the hills I’d be out of breath. After a couple of weeks of not smoking I was getting up that hill, and I’d be panting, but I wouldn’t be out of breath. So that was the first sort of time, I actually thought smoking is absolutely, not smoking does, you know, I feel better for not smoking. So I was sort of aware straight away of the benefits. That I, the bad things about not smoking is... I remember sort of there would be times when you know, people would feel powerful for actually smoking. You know, a couple of my friends that didn’t smoke would excuse themselves so they could satisfy their craving for a smoke, I don’t smoke it’s great.

At times I wanted a cigarette as our friends used to come into my home, you know a non smoker, or I am a non smoker and I’d be a non-smoker for the rest of my life so that’s why I don’t know I can’t remember if the hypnotist has worked or not because that phrase has stuck in my head.

Jules smoked a lot of dope in his early 20s. He preferred the ‘peaceful’ effect to the louder and more aggressive environment of the pub.

What made me want to smoke dope I’ve got no idea apart from it being a social thing. I became, I mean Cornwall was, that was probably sort of when I was 20, 21, 22. I used to go down there. Basically just to doss and do what I wanted to do. No real, no real purpose to life at all. And you still have holiday jobs and then out of season you used to just go home and do what you wanted to do. Smoking dope seems to have been part of it.

And dope then became what alcohol had been I’d moved away from North Wales where I was sort of one of the lads down the pub, every Friday, Saturday, Sunday playing pool for a pub team. And I moved away from that and sort of, I don’t know, if I’d continued that I probably would have had a drink problem as well. But then I started smoking dope as a replacement. And it was a nice feeling, relaxed. I liked the fact that there was no aggression when people smoked, you know, there was with alcohol. And it seemed a much more sort of peaceful way of just living your life, rather than this racu..., this loud, this loud pub environment. And this was just ego sort of affected by alcohol.

So yes, it just seemed a good thing to do at the time. And it became a habit. And you know, the consequence of is that there’s a lot, a lot of my life that I don’t actually remember. It’s, I don’t know, if I went back I’d probably still do exactly the same. So I’ve got no real regrets. I enjoyed all of my time, which I find quite weird when someone sort of says can you remember when we were 60 whatever it was, and we did this, I can’t remember. I mean it wouldn't have been 60, it or 80 whatever, but I can’t actually remember that. I vaguely remember being somewhere but I don’t actually remember. I remember concerts I went to but I don’t actually remember the concert. I remember going to the concert at Milton Keynes Bowl and REM, but I don’t actually remember who else was playing. I don’t remember, I just remember sort of having a ticket and going. It might have been a dream. It’s, I can’t remember, I don’t how the hell to describe it. You know that you did something but you can’t remember what you did. I sort of vaguely remember a couple of the people I would have gone with, but who else I would have gone with, who I spoke to while I was at the gig, it’s weird.
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The birth of his Jules’s daughter was the ”ultimate reason” he gave up smoking.

And I think the next time, [name of partner] gave up when she was pregnant. She said that virtually immediately, the first week she had a couple of puffs when I was outside having a cigarette. She came out and had a puff. But within a week thank God, after she told me that she was pregnant and I knew I had to give up smoking. I knew I had to give up smoking. I kept on and I finally gave up when [name of daughter] was nine weeks old. I used patches. Again there was that want to give up smoking and I think that’s, for me that’s the key thing. But if I didn’t want to give up smoking I wouldn’t be able to give up. But I really wanted to. And yes, [name of daughter] my little girl is the ultimate reason it was quite weird. Before she came along I think there was never any reason to actually give up smoking, if I kill myself it’s my life, but with [name of daughter] I’ve got to be there. Excuse me, I get a bit emotional [laughs].

I’m not surprised. And so was it more a responsibility of being there, rather than you know, sort of her seeing you smoke or how did you feel it?

Well for all sorts of reasons. That the being there, I want her to have a father, I want her to have a Mother and Dad. I want to be able to support her. Be there when she comes home crying or whatever. I want to physically be able to be there with her to play with her, to teach her to ride a bike, run after her without [huh huh] you know. I don’t know, I was very aware of a friend of mine who’s boy saw me smoke and he then picked up a twig and pretended to smoke and that was quite profound. I felt ashamed. Like I couldn’t even do… you know, I didn’t think about it at the time. But it could have that sort of kid could want to copy you. But when I saw her I thought this is wrong you can’t do that in front of kids. So yes, in the back of my mind when there’s going to be a time when [name of daughter] going to look to me if she sees me doing it, she’s going to think it acceptable to do. So yes that’s another reason. There’s loads of reasons not to actually smoke.

Jules paid £100 for hypnotherapy on his first ‘proper’ attempt at giving up. At the time he felt it helped, but a family tragedy a year later led to a relapse.

The first proper attempt was when I had the hypnosis, but because I had the gum and the patches and they hadn’t worked, I felt I needed I knew I couldn’t just give up like, even though I’d done it when I was 20. I just felt I couldn’t do it. So I had the hypnosis. And I really thought I really would because I did actually want to give up. And I think if I’d just turned up as a smoker and hadn’t thought about it, it wouldn’t have worked. I’d walked out of there and had another cigarette.

But because I’d gone, I really wanted to give up smoking. I paid a hundred quid for the privilege of being hypnotised. I knew damn I wasn’t going to give in. I just thought I was going to….

I mean it worked for a year I don’t know why I think it was just, I think it was a mental thing. I felt I had been hypnotised and therefore I didn’t need to smoke. But looking back on it, I don’t actually know if I was hypnotised. I don’t even know if I had if I actually believe. I don’t know. Because throughout the actual process I was just sat there in the chair and I didn’t feel any different. All I was aware of was this chap talking to me, saying you’ve got to give up smoking and you want to give up smoking and you’re not going to smoke, and you’re going to keep repeating, "I am a non smoker and I will be a non smoker for the rest of my life". That phrase is still in my head, but I don’t if I actually was hypnotised and I just wanted to believe, because I wanted to give up I want to believe and it worked for me.

But as I said earlier what was my downfall was personal problems. Tragedy in the family. And then it all fell down. But I don’t know if I actually I definitely was hypnotised or went for any session to be hypnotised but whether I was hypnotised I don’t know. I certain wasn’t running round pretending I was a frog or anything like that, but you know, yes, it’s all a weird one I don’t know. I’d have to look more into hypnosis what it actually is.

I understand that people going through problems listening to this chap, but people going through hypnosis on the regular basis, self-hypnosis, when you’re driving, driving in the car and you do the route on a daily basis, and there are times when you can’t remember getting from certain point to certain point. You’re mind apparently is in a self hypnosis. It’s self preservation. Your mind’s not going to let you do anything that’s going to cause you harm, but it shuts down and you think you never you maybe away with the fairies but you’re still driving that car, you’re still safe, but it’s not all there a bit. So…

Are you seeing anything sort of looking back at hypnosis had I asked you say if you had gone out of a session, have you been hypnotised? What might you have said to me?

I think I probably would have said, “Yes.” Because I’d just paid a hundred quid, god damn it I was hypnotised. But yes, I honestly don’t know if I was hypnotised. I think it was a tool that I needed I still don’t know whether I believe in hypnosis. As a real tool, I mean it’s certainly I don’t know. I mean I really don’t know whether that’s how you feel when you’re hypnotised. My mindset at the time though was I want to give up smoking. This is a tool.

It was almost like being brainwashed. This bloke was going on about, “You’re not going to smoke. You’re not going to want to smoke.” And it was basically around this chap saying this. At the time you feel opposite and your body’s going to say no, your mind’s going to say no. I don’t know. It just, looking back on it, I have got this feeling that I was, I actually thought ya di, ya di, ya di, ya di. But I was like I want to give up smoking so I believed it. I could be wrong. But that’s how I feel about it.

Jules used various different aids, but thought that wanting to give up was the most important thing.

I mean I haven’t actually had the real cravings that I used to have before when I gave up smoking. I think about smoking a bit more in the sense that I want a cigarette, I think about smoking in a sense that I don’t want a cigarette. It’s a totally different mindset, and I know that that’s [name of daughter] that’s done that but it’s also I don’t want it. Because I know the health reasons and … you know. But I couldn’t recommend any particular way. I wouldn’t say that this is better than that. But that’s as long as you’ve that desire to give up smoking. You want to give up smoking. You will.

Jules wanted to tell other people to ‘just do it’ and that he had succeeded when he never thought he could. He said it helped to have an incentive.

Do it, just do it, no can be the one message I suppose is, in my mind is if you want to do it, if you really want to do it, you can, you can do it. I did it. I never thought I actually would do it. I suppose people might say you’ve got an incentive, that’s what you need, you do need an incentive, but if you want to do it, you can do it.

It can be really patronising when somebody says you should give up smoking and you’re really ready at the time and the last thing… because at the end of the day if you smoke, you know that’s not good for you, you know it’s not doing you any good and the last thing you really need is someone saying you should give up smoking. I know I went through moments of hell every single night. You’re not depressed but you’re miserable because you’re smoking and you’re reliant on the thing. So some guy whose stopped smoking turning round and say you shouldn’t be smoking is probably not what you really want to hear. But if you do want to give up smoking, you can actually do it. It is physically possible to.
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