When the walk to football got harder, Roy decided it was time to quit.
Sunday 7th November 2021 is a date that sticks with Roy. It’s the day that he started his journey towards becoming smokefree.
Roy started smoking at the age of 14. Both of his parents smoked, as did a lot of his friends. He joined the Navy when he was 18 and cigarettes were available duty-free, so were cheap and easily available. Smoking became a habit.
On leaving the Navy, Roy worked in asbestos removal for several years – strenuous work requiring him to wear a lot of protective clothing. Smoking during the working day was inconvenient, but come the end of the day, the pub beckoned.
“The first sip on a Guinness and the first drag on a cig felt like luxury. I’d meet up with my mates or be playing my guitar in the pub and sessions might be long. I could get through 25 to 30 cigarettes in an evening.”
But following a visit to his GP, Roy decided that he was going to give up smoking.
“I’ve been taking my great nephew to the football regularly, walking to the ground and back. I realised that the walk was getting more difficult. My hips were aching, and any kind of hill felt like a big hill.”
The GP diagnosed peripheral arterial disease (PAD) – a condition where a build-up of fatty deposits in the arteries restricts blood flow to the leg muscles. The condition itself isn’t immediately life-threatening but worsening of the condition can lead to serious and potentially fatal problems.
“I’d seen a close friend deteriorate quickly because of the same condition. He was arrogant and stubborn, and for him, it was too late. I didn’t want to be like that.”
Roy, now 70, took that as the deciding factor and made his decision to stop smoking.
“The doc said that giving up smoking may not make everything better, but if I carried on, they would definitely get worse.”
Even though he hadn’t experienced any particular health concerns because of smoking, Roy didn’t like the prospect of becoming poorly in the future.
“A mate and I had given up a couple of times before in the 80s when the economy was bad and smoking became too expensive. Both times we quit for about 18 months. But we always came back to it.”
This time was different. The doctor put Roy in touch with Smokefree Sheffield and spoke to an advisor about the best way for him to quit. He took to the inhalator, which gave him the nicotine hit as well as replicating the action of smoking an actual cigarette.
“It got to a point that I no longer needed the nicotine, but drawing on the inhalator and the resistance provided by the filter acted as a placebo. I was often using the inhalator with a cartridge that was several days old and had no more nicotine in it.”
“What really helped was regular contact with my stop smoking advisor. They called every week or so just to see how I was getting on. They were really friendly and it was nice to have someone to talk to about things.”
Eventually, even the inhalator became redundant.
“I’m proud of what I have done. I smoked for 54 years, but once I’d decided to give up, I stuck with it. And I’ve used my experience to help my cousin give up too.”