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Edward quit smoking after 20 years

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After smoking for more than twenty years, Wicklow man Edward Humphrey quit smoking when he felt his smoking was out of control. Now Edward is enjoying all the benefits of being a non-smoker and loves setting a healthy example for other men in his local Men’s Shed in Wicklow Town. This is his story...

I started smoking when I was a teenager to get friendly with a nice young girl who lived nearby and who was also a smoker. For the next twenty years or so I was a committed smoker.

One day I realised I had just had to stop smoking. I had gone from smoking twenty cigarettes to sixty cigarettes a day.

I was going through a very stressful time in my life and I found myself stubbing one cigarette out and lighting another.

I knew that I didn’t want the cigarettes. I started thinking about what I was getting out of smoking and I realised I wasn’t gaining anything.

When I stopped smoking I had strong cravings for the first two weeks but with each urge, I would say to myself that this longing for a cigarette would pass. I knew the difference between the ‘needing’ a cigarette and ‘wanting’ a cigarette.

I had my reasons for quitting and I knew I didn’t want the smell from cigarettes or the cost of them anymore. I wanted my sense of smell back and to feel healthier and fitter.

I was determined to not even take a single puff and slowly but surely the cravings stopped.

For the next two years, I was smoke-free, until I accepted a cigarette when I was out with friends. I lit it up and smoked half of it before I realised what I was doing and put it out. The next day at work, a colleague offered me a cigarette and I said ‘yeah sure, why not’.

It was the silliest thing I did, as after a few drags I began coughing and spluttering. It really re-enforced my decision to stay smoke-free.

My wife also learned from me that you can quit if you want to and stopped smoking too not long after.

One of the things I noticed straight away after I quit was that I always had cash in my wallet. Before my wife and I would have struggled between pay cheques. I used to go and fill up the car with petrol and wonder did I have enough to pay for it. Now I never have to worry about money. The stress of not having to worry about money was a huge burden off our shoulders.

After I quit I got a box and started popping the price of a pack of twenty cigarettes in it. Within a year there was enough money for a big holiday. My wife and I chose to go to Inis Oirr, the smallest Aran Island, in Galway Bay. My wife fell in love with the place, she loves Irish music and we’d go to the local pub at 6pm and stay until late listening to the musicians.

I was part of the organising committee that set up the Wicklow Town Men’s Shed but I wasn’t a regular member until two years ago. The Sheds are designed to offer a safe, friendly and inclusive environment where men from all walks of life can work on meaningful projects at their own pace, in their own time, and in the company of other men. I really like heading down to our Shed at Dispensary Avenue in Wicklow Town. The local pigeon racing club recently offered us new accommodation and we’ve worked hard to get it in shape. In the new Shed, we have a workshop where we make bird boxes, bat roosts, plant holders and fairy doors. There’s also a wood burning stove but since I stopped smoking my sense of smell is so heightened so much so I’ve lads not to put varnished or painted wood in it as the fumes were really bothering me.

If I had some advice for someone who was thinking of quitting or for someone who was having a tough time staying quit, I would say to them to think about what you are going to get out of quitting rather than thinking about what they are giving up.

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page last reviewed: 31/03/2019
next review due: 31/03/2022

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