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Michael Purtill extinguishes a 20-year smoking addiction

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I was a smoker for 20 years, but thanks to the QUIT service for the last 100 days I can call myself an ex-smoker. tells me that I have saved €2,100 and I have not smoked 3000 cigarettes since I stopped smoking!

I have been attending the free HSE Stop Smoking Service in Donegal with the support of my Stop Smoking Advisor, Fiona Boyle. I have been down this road before and I did successfully quit with the service. Unfortunately, I fell for the "sure I am off them now, I can have one" way of thinking and I was back on cigarettes in no time. However, I realise this time that even one puff will mean I am back on them.

I work in a stressful job as a firefighter and found myself smoking more during the first lockdown. This carried on throughout the rest of the year and I was smoking up to 30 cigarettes per day. I was very worried about how I would feel during a fire call without a cigarette and how I would cope during stressful times in my own life.

So, I sought help from Fiona again and she set me back on the path for success once more. Visiting the QUIT service does not mean you need to quit before you talk to them or immediately after, this service is built around you and how you feel and what pace you need to go at.

Like before, I made plans where I would not smoke, such as, in the car, at work, in the house or when on a phone call. Breaking down these habits prior to stopping smoking for good meant I was much more prepared. I have tried many times over the years to quit by myself, often picking a Sunday or Monday as the day to stop. It never worked. But with the help of the Donegal Stop Smoking Service, I am now a non-smoker and see my future as the same.  

Getting my own head ready and really wanting to stop was the key before any attempt to quit, if you don't want to, then you won't. There is no magic solution for quitting smoking, it takes work. Attending the HSE Stop Smoking Service meant that I was supported in what I wanted. A plan was set, and I had weeks to work towards my QUIT date. During this time, I talked to Fiona about why and when I smoked and how smoking is an addiction. At this point Fiona recommended I use NRT in the form of patches and lozenges to help me, along with the QuickMist for social occasions. I followed the plan and used the NRT, so here I am – 100 days smoke free.

There were times in the beginning when I really wanted to have a cigarette but with willpower and the frequent phone calls of support from Fiona meant I didn’t have one.

I still attend the clinic and Fiona rings every so often to make sure I am still smoke free; without this I would still be sitting there on a Sunday night hoping Monday will be the answer. 

To start your own QUIT journey sign up for a QUIT plan, call 1800 201 203 or contact a Stop Smoking Advisor in your area here

page last reviewed: 28/01/2022
next review due: 28/01/2025

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