A Devon woman who has given up smoking after more than 50 years on cigarettes has called on other wannabe quitters in East Devon to seek free specialist help from the NHS.
Ann Veit, 68, has smoked about 40 a day from the age of 15 and suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
She started to attend the weekly NHS stop smoking clinic in March this year and has noticed significant benefits to her health and wellbeing since giving up.
In particular, routine tests have shown a significant improvement in the function of her lungs.
Meanwhile, carbon monoxide levels in her blood reduced from 26ppm (parts per million) at her first appointment to just 3ppm a week later, putting her on a par with non-smokers.
“Breathing is easier, I’ve got more energy, my self-esteem has improved and I no longer feel like a pariah,” said Ann, who livesnear Axminster.
“I can also see the financial benefits – I’ve got more money in my purse at the end of the week.”
Ann receives one-to-one support from Lucy Drury, a specialist stop smoking adviser for Health Promotion Devon (HPD).
“Lucy is a wonderful supporter who takes things at my pace,” said Ann, a retired information systems manager.
“She is never judgemental or condescending, and projects a genuine wish to help and concern for my wellbeing.
“If everyone trying to quit smoking had a supporter like Lucy, there would be many more reformed smokers.”
Ann, who is being supported to quit with the use of patches and an inhaler, is encouraging other people to visit their local NHS stop smoking clinic.
HPD, a specialist arm of the Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, runs a clinic at Axminster Medical Practice every Friday as well as three sessions a week in Honiton.
Ann said: “Don’t try to go it alone when there is excellent help available that does not use gimmicks and understands it is no easy task to quit smoking.
“Speak to your GP and give it a go. The improvement in self-esteem when you’ve managed to stop is a great feeling. Use my mantra of never quit quitting.”
Ann had previously attempted to quit three times without success – trying hypnosis, acupuncture and patches.
She said: “After a serious bout of pneumonia, which left me in hospital, I realised I must stop or I wouldn’t last long.”
She said: “I sincerely hope I have learned the lesson of the stupidity of smoking and will make every endeavour to resist any temptations.
“It is hard, but never quit quitting. If I can do it after 50-odd years, there is hope for everyone.”
Anyone interested in attending must book in advance by calling the Devon Stop Smoking Service on 01884 836024.