Publish date: 8 March 2023

Ex-smoker celebrates No Smoking Day with new role helping others to quit

Louise Bell.jpg

 ​​​​​​For Louise Bell, the inspiration to quit smoking after more than 15 years was so strong that she has also started a new career to help others kick the habit.

This No Smoking Day (8 March) is not only the first since the 36-year-old, from Benton, stopped smoking, but also falls during her first week as a tobacco dependency adviser at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

Louise made the decision to quit in October last year after attending Making Every Contact Count (MECC) training in the trust, where she previously worked in admin and support worker roles. MECC encourages healthcare professionals to share health advice whenever they have contact with patients.

“I’ve smoked 10 a day since I was in my early 20s, sometimes more if I was out socialising,” she said. “I suffered from terrible chest infections and tried quitting a few times but only lasted a few days. I was young and didn’t think of the bigger picture of the impact smoking was having on my health.

“It wasn’t until I attended MECC training that my eyes were truly opened to the damage smoking was doing to my body and to those around me.

“I walked out of the training feeling inspired and determined to quit and to stick to it. I accessed support through occupational health and have used a vape to help me through and I haven’t looked back since.

“I can breathe better, my skin is nicer, I smell nicer, I feel healthier, I’m saving money and, most importantly, I can be a role model to my little nephew who I adore looking after.”

After feeling the benefits of quitting herself, Louise was motivated to apply for a new role as a tobacco dependency adviser in Northumbria Healthcare’s public health team, supporting patients across Northumberland and North Tyneside to stop smoking.

“I saw the role come up and just knew I had to apply,” she added. “Quitting can be tough but it’s worth it. Being an ex-smoker myself, I can relate to the difficulties the patients are facing and have an insight into how they’re feeling about the journey ahead. It’s life changing and I’m excited to help others now too.”

Louise will join a small team of tobacco dependency advisers working across the trust to provide individualised smoking cessation support to patients being admitted to hospital.

Jill Harland, Northumbria Healthcare public health consultant and chair of the regional MECC strategy group, said: “I’m delighted that Louise is feeling the benefits of quitting and even more so that she’s used it as an opportunity to influence her career path.

“It’s hard to believe that this time last year Louise was still a smoker and now she’ll be using her experience to help others. It just goes to show the true impact MECC can have, we’re looking forward to Louise getting started and making every contact count in her conversations with patients too.”

MECC plays a key part in the trust’s work to improve population health and reduce health inequalities in its local communities. Training staff in MECC helps to utilise the thousands of daily conversations that take place to influence positive behaviour changes. It’s a whole-person approach which also considers the impact social circumstances such as finance, employment, social support and housing can have on wellbeing.

For support to stop smoking, you can find details about your local service here.

Media contact

Nicol Bradley, marketing and communications officer, Northumbria Healthcare

Nicol.bradley@northumbria.nhs.ukor 0191 203 1653.