Healthy Peterborough

Shaun's quit smoking journey

Shaun, aged 58, started his first quit attempt with our 1-1 service in December 2016 having smoked for 40 years. He had started smoking as 12-year-old boy.

Shaun had been advised by his GP that he should stop smoking as he developed very poor circulation in his foot and lower leg caused by a painful condition known as intermittent claudication. 

This is where the blood vessel (artery) to the foot becomes hardened and narrowed so that blood cannot flow through properly. The pain comes on after walking a short distance and now is so bad Shaun walks with a stick and is not able to work. 

Shaun understood that smoking constricts the blood vessels and agreed with the doctor that he should stop smoking although he really did not want to. He was offered daytime or evening/weekend appointments, but decided daytime appointments at his local GP surgery would be best for him.

At the Smoking Cessation Clinic at his local GP surgery, Shaun told his Wellness Coach that he had tried patches and an inhalator before and had not managed to quit.  He asked if he could try Champix tablets and after a discussion about his health and the medication he was on it was agreed by his GP that Shaun could start Champix on an NHS prescription for an initial two week course.

At this point Shaun was smoking about 20 cigarettes a day and his Carbon Monoxide reading was 20 parts per million which indicated he was a seriously addicted smoker with almost 4% of poisonous carbon monoxide in his bloodstream. 

The Champix course allows you to still smoke in the first couple of weeks of treatment but Shaun planned his quit date to be on day seven, which although was a bit early, was a significant date for him. It was New Year’s Eve. A good time for a resolution. 

At the next visit he said he had had a bit of nausea in the mornings so was advised to ensure he had some food before taking his tablet. This he found, really helped. He was still having a lot of cravings and the advisor discussed distraction techniques with him. For example, if thoughts of smoking entered his head it was suggested he does something else like having a drink of water or going outside for a breath of air. This should help take his mind off smoking. 

By the end of the second week, Shaun’s CO reading was down to two parts per million (down from 20) which is in the range of a non-smoker. This was a real achievement, to go from being an addicted smoker of 40 years to a non-smoker in two weeks.

Shaun continued to attend clinic every two weeks and did not smoke again, but continued to have very strong cravings. This is quite unusual for those taking Champix. He was pleased to be able to say though, that even when offered cigarettes by friends he could say: "No thank you, I don’t smoke now." 

Shaun found his quit attempt very difficult as he was suffering a lot pain. The fact he did not really want to stop smoking added to the stress. Many people would have not chosen this time to quit, however Shaun was determined to do it for the sake of his health. The doctor had warned him he may lose his leg or have a heart attack or stroke if he continued to smoke. 

By week eight, the stress in his life reduced somewhat and the cravings became fewer and easier to manage. 

At week 10 we agreed to start to reduce the dose of Champix gradually, without the cravings increasing. 

Now nine months later Shaun is still smoke free and regards himself as a non-smoker. He still has some cravings, but they are now mild and much easier to dismiss from his mind.

Shaun said that most of his cravings were brought on with stress or boredom and through his life his natural reaction was to have a cigarette at those times. Smoking to him was a way of life.

He said that he found the Smoking Cessation Service helpful as there was someone there to listen to him each week. When he was struggling not to smoke again he felt encouraged to persevere. He said he was made to feel good that he had achieved another day without smoking and felt the combination of the medication and the support really helped him. 

Shaun was pleased the Smoking Cessation sessions felt informal even though in a clinic situation and this helped relieve some of his stress. He said it feels excellent to be able to claim he is a non-smoker.

Shaun is hoping his circulation will improve enough to avoid having his leg amputated and is certain he will not smoke again. 

He believes that smoking may have caused the painful condition in his leg and foot. He is trying to walk a little further each day to try to improve his circulation, reduce his pain and improve his quality of life. 

Changing behaviour for anyone is difficult. Quitting smoking is much easier when you want to stop and can chose the best time for you to do it. Shaun succeeded despite very difficult circumstances due to his determination and the support of the Peterborough Smoking Cessation Service. 


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Healthy Peterborough is led by:
  • Peterborough City Council
  • Peterborough Pharmacies
  • Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust