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Khan

Age at interview: 29
Brief Outline: Khan, 29, gave up smoking four months ago. He is British Pakistani lives with his wife and they are expecting their first child. Khan smoked for 14 years before giving up with the help of an NHS clinic. Khan started smoking at age 14 and says that he was very addicted. He gave up after his Dad had heart problems and his wife persuaded him to quit. Khan has now stopped for four months.

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Khan started smoking when he was 14, and smoked until four months ago. He says that he was ‘properly addicted’ to cigarettes and still gets cravings. Khan thinks he started smoking as something of a ‘fashion trend’ when he was in a ‘bad crowd’. He has never tried cannabis or alcohol, just cigarettes.

Previously, during Ramadan, he wouldn’t fast ‘that much’ because he was addicted to the nicotine and couldn’t stop smoking; he said that even going without food was easier. However now he can fast during 30 days ‘no problem’. He used to smoke quite heavily - two packs of cigarettes a day sometimes - and always said to himself ‘I’m going to stop’. He started to get bad coughs and colds in the winter months, and also realised that he spent about £2000 a year on cigarettes. Instead of smoking helping him cope with stressful events, he said that he used to get more anxious and have a ‘funny stomach’ as a result of smoking. Khan had a couple of unsuccessful attempts at quitting, when he stopped suddenly and had the ‘shivers’ and ‘funny sweats’. He has also felt constipated, as previously having a cigarette always helped him go to the toilet.

Later, Khan’s father had a heart attack, and this event helped him make the decision to quit smoking. Previously he hadn’t realised that heart problems were connected with smoking. He read some information leaflets in hospital when his dad was an in-patient. In addition, his wife wanted him to give up smoking. Khan’s wife is also expecting their first child and he wanted to give up because he was about to start a family. He didn’t want his kids to start smoking. At this time, Khan knew a guy who worked for the NHS who said that he could help him stop. He went to a ‘stop smoking’ clinic and got nicotine replacement patches and regular one-to-one appointments at which his carbon monoxide levels were measured. He quickly started seeing a big difference.

Khan didn’t bother so much with the patches, but still managed to quit and said that he felt ‘different’ and ‘a bit fuzzy’. However, he saved a lot of money and said he feels stronger. Nevertheless, he felt that his speech is slurred, that he keeps forgetting things and that he becomes snappy – changes that happened at the same time as giving up smoking. Khan also has cravings for chocolate. Now he is doing more running and finds playing cricket easier. Khan chews chewing gum ‘all the time’, and spends the extra money he saves on clothes. He has gained a stone in weight despite previously being the same weight for a number of years. Now he thinks that he is ‘90% a non-smoker’.

Khan’s message to others is that they should open a bank account and save the money they aren’t spending on cigarettes. He also recommends that people test their fitness levels at the beginning of quitting smoking by attempting to run around a field and then repeating the exercise after they have quit, saying they would be surprised how much they improve and how quickly.
 
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Khan had not connected heart problems with smoking until his dad was taken to hospital.

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And before your Dad had his health problems…

Yes.

Had you made the connection between smoking and heart problems specifically?

How do… no, no, not really, I did and I didn’t. I think it did hit me then as well, but not as much. I think when my Dad had the problem then…

So when you were reading the leaflets in the hospital and so on…

Yes. Well I made a vow to myself, I promised my wife, I said, “You know, you started it. I should do it for myself, but you said something.” Partners in life, in life I think... certain things in life you have to compromise, you have to work as a team. You’ve got the spark, you’ve got to take it. Because if I was still smoking now, I don’t know, it would have caused me more problems. I think to myself I’ve done a really good thing that I’ve stopped. But when I was in that hospital I thought to myself, you know, it was the icing on the cake, looking at leaflet, them pictures and that they said to me when she looked… because I’m the only son… and she said to me, talk a bit about myself, and if I smoked and I said, “No, I’ve stopped.” And even as she said, “Stop.” And looking at leaflets, I thought to myself, whatever side effects or little time there might be, it might be a bit hard for me. I might be snappy, I might feel a bit weird, because you do, ‘cause you’re having a little change. But go for it, like what’s the problem, just take it at a month, and I stopped in April, yes, and then I used to get certificates as well over certain things. I just kept one, because I thought to myself, no point, just look back at it every time, that I have stopped smoking, and when did I stop smoking. So I’d just kept the first month – one. So it was a big thing that my Dad had to go to hospital. I had to look at the leaflets, I spoke to the nurse, looked at my wife, and the doctor, and was like you know what, I don’t want to be in them shoes. Whether it is written or not. I don’t need this. It’s not food. It’s not something, like it’s not a cup of tea or biscuits. It’s something what I don’t need. It’s just going inside my body. Like a car, if you put water in it, instead of petrol, it’s not going to work is it? It needs petrol, the same thing, we need food. We don’t need something like cigarette in our system.
 
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Khan went to a smoking cessation clinic and liked finding that his carbon monoxide levels had decreased and that his physical health was improving.

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Carbon monoxide was six or five, quite high. I started going after a few weeks. It went to three. It’s averaged. And that made me realise I am doing good basically. And you know, everything’s clear, so it’s good to you know, you need support, you need support, anything you do, any sort of, you know, if you’re smoking or whether you’re drinking or taking drugs, you need, if you can’t come off something, if you haven’t got the willpower, you do need willpower though, but you need this spark, then just go for it. Take advice, go counselling, take up….

But some people say they can’t stop smoking or drinking or, but I don’t believe in that, if I could do it, I’ve been broke three or four times, now, three times. Not intentionally, but sometimes like I say, you don’t realise, that if you do something wrong, but what’s the consequence? Or if you’re going to see someone, this will be the outcome, or if you smoke fags or with all of them you just need willpower, you need to be strong. But I think the smoking advice place, they’ve helped me out quite a lot. They sent forms to me and DVDs. The Quit Line, and the, you know, the brochures like if you stop for one day, no you stop for twenty minutes, an hour is it? I don’t know off the top of me head. Your blood pressure goes back to normal, your pulse. Your taste buds get better. You know, everything, you’re given more confidence.
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