Stoptober is back this year and among those in Plymouth vowing to quit smoking is a new grandmother who wants to be able to spend more time with her grandson who was born prematurely.
Stoptober is the 28 day stop smoking campaign led by Public Health England and backed by Plymouth City Council, which nationally has driven over 1 million quit attempts. It is based on research that shows that if you can stop smoking for 28 days, you are five times more likely to stay smoke free for good.
Helen Ryan works as the Head of Communities and Housing With Support at Plymouth Community Homes (PCH), and has smoked for the past 40 years. She made a decision to give up cigarettes during this Stoptober (which runs in October) when her grandson Francis was born prematurely in August and she spent a lot of time visiting him at the Special Care Baby Unit at North Devon Hospital.
Helen said: “I’ve tried giving up a few times before but nothing really serious, but it was the birth of my beautiful new grandson that really spurred me on.
“When he was in the special care baby unit the hospital was plastered with posters saying that you must not smoke around babies or go near them if you have cigarette smoke on your clothes, so it really brought it home to me. I also wanted to be able to spend more time with my grandson by becoming healthier.
“I was a teenager when I started smoking 40 years ago and I have never been a non-smoker during my adult life so it will be very strange.”
Helen will be initially moving from cigarettes to vaping with e-cigarettes, before finally giving up altogether. She says her colleagues at PCH have offered to give their support to her.
Helen said: “I’ve set the date of 19 October to give up as that’s when we have our whole team meeting and all my colleagues will be there to spur me on. We will be having a ceremonial destruction of my cigarettes!
“My colleagues have offered me a variety of support, from coffee to donuts and lots of empathy. Another of my colleagues at PCH has already given up smoking with the help of e-cigarettes and that has also given me the impetus to do this.
“I hope that by doing this and sharing my story it will inspire others and especially those that have smoked for a long time. Just because you’ve smoked for 40 years it doesn’t mean you have to do it forever – if I can do it, so can you.”
Councillor Lynda Bowyer, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care for Plymouth City Council, said: “We are very pleased to support Stoptober once again because we know that giving up smoking is one of the best things you can do for a longer, healthier life. Encouraging more people to quit smoking is also one of the top priorities of our Thrive Plymouth health improvement programme for the city.
“I wish Helen all the best with her quit attempt, as well as anyone else who plans to quit smoking this Stoptober.”
For more information on Stop Smoking support in Plymouth call 01752 437177 or visit http://oneyouplymouth.co.uk/be-smoke-free/