Northumberland grandfather backs No Smoking Day campaign
A Northumberland grandfather has quit smoking after over 50 years and hopes to inspire others to give up on No Smoking Day.
No Smoking Day is today (Wednesday 12 March) and is run by the British Heart Foundation (BHF). It has a V for Victory theme this year to inspire smokers to win the fight against cigarettes.
Richard Humes, 65, of Haltwhistle, stopped smoking on March 17 2012 and has stayed quit thanks to his own determination and support from Northumberland NHS Stop Smoking service which is ran by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
Married to Heather who runs Hall Meadow Bed and Breakfast in Haltwhistle, they have two sons Andrew, 37, and Daniel, 33, together and two grandchildren Alex, 13 and her brother Cameron, seven.
Richard said: “Maybe I will live long enough to see my grandchildren get married now. I would encourage people who want to quit smoking to go and see your local stop smoking advisor for support. I am already an ambassador now and have encouraged some of my friends to go.”
The retired salesman began smoking at the age of 16 and smoked for close to 50 years building up to 25 cigarettes a day. Richard’s father was also a smoker who suffered from emphysema and died of an asthma attack.
But this didn’t deter him as his friends and work colleagues all smoked during his teenage years.
“I never smoked at work, it was more of a social thing,” he said. “I was smoking between 20 and 25 cigarettes a day and I didn’t want to give up for a long time. My family were nagging me to stop and it made me quite stubborn. I could afford it and that would have been the only thing that would have made me stop.”
He decided to kick the habit once and for all on Budget Day 2012 when cigarettes went up by 30p or 40p a pack and at the same time he had heard there was a stop smoking clinic at his GP practice in Haltwhistle.
“The two things came together at the same time,” he said. “I was just too mean to carry on when they went up. I decided to make an appointment to see the stop smoking advisor and I quit there and then. That was the decision made and when I went to see him I had already managed to stop for a week.”
Richard went to see his stop smoking advisor Kent Flanighan at Haltwhistle Medical Centre who prescribed him patches and they talked through why he wanted to stop and the effect his habit was having on his own health and that of his family’s.
Richard said: “It was more what was going on around me that shocked me. Kent was very honest and to the point and said ‘you’re poisoning yourself and your family’. I would get very breathless when I was out walking the dog Lucy, I would be heaving by the time I got up a hill but I convinced myself it was good for my heart.
“My son suffered from asthma as a child which has since grown out of and he is in the armed forces so he is very fit, but when he would return home he would get an infection and need antihistamine medication. We put it down to the environment and the fact we have a dog. But since I quit smoking he hasn’t had another infection again and I now realise it was my cigarette smoke causing his flare ups.”
Richard’s grandson Cameron never liked him smoking either. “Cameron would always ask me why I was smoking these horrible things. I was the only person in my family who smoked.”
Richard did manage to stop smoking for four years by going ‘cold turkey’ with no NHS support, but a work trip to Spain ended in him having a cigar with work colleagues which started the slippery slope back to smoking every day.
This time Richard used patches for four weeks and went down to half strength in a couple of weeks.
“I felt I could do it on my own and I didn’t need anything but the patches did help – they were a crutch if you like. The support from Kent was absolutely brilliant, he was so friendly and positive and I completely trusted everything he said.”
Richard has worked out he is saving over £3,000 a year and he and Heather are reaping the rewards with two holidays a year instead of one.
Richard feels confident he won’t be tempted to start again. “I feel like I have crossed the bridge now. The way I feel at the moment is I’m not going back. When you give up smoking you’re not a good person to be around and my wife said she would leave me if I started again!”
Kent Flanighan, stop smoking specialist with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Richard has done so well as he was committed to taking the medication – patches in his case, and attending his local clinic every week. People who go ‘cold turkey’ have a low quit rate.
“You are four times more likely to quit for good with NHS support as we can prescribe the medication to help manage the cravings, and help you to think differently so you can change your behaviour. It is never too late to quit and you will start to see real health benefits very quickly.”
For more information on stopping smoking and Northumberland NHS Stop Smoking Service call 01670 813135 or visit www.northumbria.nhs.uk/stopsmoking