My advice to anyone thinking about stopping smoking would be to give it a go.

Before accessing the service, I was in that place where I knew what I should do but wasn’t sure where to start. I had all sorts of reasons why stopping would be a bad idea, but, worst of all, that doubt, what if I can’t quit? Then what?

I had been contemplating stopping seriously for about four weeks, but honestly, I’ve wanted to stop for years. That’s when I came across my friend who told me she was three weeks old and attending a support group.

I asked for the number and arranged my first consultation. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I knew I couldn’t use the patches as they reacted badly with my skin. During the information session, I was informed of all the products and settled on a vape, which appealed to me, along with the mouth spray, as I was panicking the vape wouldn’t be enough. I also chose the group for support as it seemed to work for my friend.

Since then, I’ve been attending the group, which, to my surprise, I’ve found very helpful. It has helped that the group members are all friendly and going through the same or similar experiences as me. When I joined, several members were 5 or 6 weeks quit and seemed to be doing great. And at the time, I was struggling with cravings and, if I’m honest, still very dubious. I could quit at all, never mind, get to five weeks!

I’m glad to report I’m there. It’s been five weeks since I quit, and I’m doing great, partly because I want to share my story.

The group support is brilliant and suits me as it means I can speak openly about my experiences and that personal interaction you find when joining the group. It’s nice to catch up with the other members and share our weekly progress. I know I’m addicted to nicotine, and the products help with the cravings, but the group support helps me keep focused, and it's nice to hear people discuss their progress as well as struggles. I have also taken up cross stitching, which helps when I light up, and it’s a great time.

The focus for me engaging with service was to help my breathing and, to be frank, financial also. These past five weeks have opened my eyes to the cost of smoking, how much I used to spend, and the health implications associated with being a smoker. When you’re part of a group, I feel you see the real effect smoking has on someone and how smoking causes people to struggle; every group member has mentioned how much better off they are since quitting. Personally, I have more money, and I feel so much better. My breathing has improved, and I’m more mobile.

My main product is the vape, and it’s great. I love how easy it is and how much support it offers me. I was really surprised as I tried my daughter’s disposable vape, and it choked me to death. And couldn’t imagine myself using one to stop smoking. The Skope S isn’t anything flashy, but it does the job, and the flavours and simplicity of the device appeal. Even better, it doesn’t make me cough.

Yorkshire Smokefree Calderdale will provide me with a vape and liquids for 12 weeks, but I already know I will continue to vape beyond this as I don’t want to relapse and start smoking cigarettes ever again!

My long-term plan is to get rid of the vape, but, for now, it’s helping me and, like I said, I am experiencing so many benefits now I no longer smoke tobacco.

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