Stop smoking and See the Difference

I remember always having a fascination with smoking. After seeing numerous family members smoking and watching people lighting up on the TV, I always wondered what the craze was. My journey with smoking started as a pretty quintessential moment in many teenagers' lives. I was 15 years old when someone cracked open a pack of cigarettes at a house party, offered me one, and I was hooked from there.

At first, I didn’t really like it but found myself reluctantly going back for drag after drag, mostly trying to fit in with the people around me. Instantly I knew how to hold one, doing my best to imitate what I’d seen others doing. Being the smug teenager that I was, I thought there was no way I could get addicted to something as small as a cigarette - I thought I knew it all.

When the next party came around, I knew it meant the next cigarette and I found myself looking forward to hanging around with friends just to be able to smoke. At this point, it was just social smoking, which at the time, seemed like something everyone did. Instead of sponging off other people, my friend and I thought it was best to buy our own 10 pack to share. So, we headed to a shop in town that we heard didn’t I.D you. Mission complete - I had bought my first pack of cigarettes!

It snowballed from then. My friend and I started buying our own packs individually. Then we began smoking outside of a social setting. Once we had broken down the barrier from smoking at parties to everyday life, there was no stopping us. I quickly got into the habit of needing one first thing in the morning and most days a cig and a coffee was all I would have for breakfast.

I soon discovered that if you smoke, you get more breaks at work. At 16, I worked part-time in a hotel and almost everybody smoked. It encouraged me to smoke so much more as I enjoyed the extra break and gossip with my work colleagues. If you are a smoker or ex-smoker, you’ll know that you hear all the best gossip in the smoking area!

There were so many different elements in my life that made it seem that smoking was the right choice for me - even my sixth form had an outdoor smoking shelter. I couldn’t imagine myself not smoking, it felt like part of my identity.

When I lived at home with my family I was able to spend a large proportion of the money I earned on smoking as I had no outgoings. However, when I moved to university in 2015, I was in for a shock. Along with more independence, also came managing my own finances. Now that I had outgoings, I quickly realized how much of my money went on smoking, and with little financial support from family, I knew I needed to make a change. Unfortunately, the change I decided to make at the time was switching to rolling tobacco instead of cigarettes to save myself some money. At the time, quitting smoking was never an option I had considered.

Fast forward to a few years later and my dad decided to kick the habit for good for his health. That really gave me the push I didn’t know I needed. He smoked for 30 years straight but in 2016 decided enough was enough and quit. He even managed to keep track of the money he was saving from not smoking and overall it was him who inspired me. I told myself if he can smoke for 30 years and then go cold turkey, surely I could follow in his footsteps after only smoking for 5 years on and off.

Feeling motivated after watching my dad succeed in quitting smoking, I had decided I was going to quit on New Year's Eve. I know it is the biggest cliche ever but it really is the ultimate fresh start. So in 2016, at a New Year’s Eve party, I smoked the whole night to get it out of my system and as it rolled over into 2017 I made a promise to myself that I had to quit smoking for good. Any cigs that I had left I gave to my friend and from then on I was going cold turkey.

The first few weeks cig free was of course the hardest. I soon realised, during the first few days, that what I would struggle with most was breaking the habit. It felt alien to me to not wake up and go straight outside for a cig and so difficult to enjoy a coffee without a smoke on the side. Being social was also a trigger for me as so many of my friends smoke. Everyone has individual triggers but mine was definitely going out but more specifically just drinking in general as this was always the time when I smoked the most. After a few nights out and a bit of trial and error, I quickly realised in the first few weeks that I could not go completely cold turkey. So I got myself a new e-cigarette because I knew in the long run, this compromise would be better than ending up smoking again.

Alongside smoking, I had been using an e-cigarette sporadically for the best part of 7 years now. I got one when I was 18 to cut down or quit but in reality, I just used it all the time alongside smoking cigarettes. When I initially quit, I used my e-cig all day, whenever I had the chance. Over time, I have managed to reduce this to only evenings (or when I am stressed!). My aim this Stoptober is to try and quit nicotine altogether and stop using my e-cigarette for good in an attempt to improve my overall health. I also intend to get Life Insurance soon and I know that if I quit now, in 12 months time, most providers would consider me a ‘non-smoker’.

Many people do not know that Life Insurance is just as affected by vaping as it is by smoking. In a recent poll we did at Caspian, we found that nearly half of the people we asked (46%) did not know Life Insurance is as affected by vaping as it is by smoking. As a whole, most insurance providers do class vaping as the same as smoking (depending on the nicotine level). So, although vaping is a useful aid to getting off the cigs, it could still potentially affect your Life Insurance premiums. So if you can, quitting altogether is always the best option!

What happens to your body when you quit smoking?*

  • The changes to your body when quitting smoking can start just 20 minutes after your last cigarette, your pulse rate will start to change to normal levels.
  • After 72 hours you may start to feel as though your breathing has improved already.
  • As little as 2 weeks after quitting, your circulation can improve so blood is pumping around your body better.
  • After 9 months you may find your breathing improving as your lung function starts to increase.
  • When 1 year has passed your risk of heart attack can be cut in half compared to a smoker.
  • Quitting smoking can also help improve your overall mental health. Although smoking can feel as though it temporarily relieves the feelings of stress and anxiety, it actually has the opposite effect and can often intensify these feelings over time. Evidence suggests that giving up smoking can help to improve mental health over time.

Tips and tricks to help you quit

  • Pick a date to quit. For me it was New Year’s Eve, it helped as I knew the date was coming up and I could mentally prepare myself.
  • Get rid of any smoking-related items you may have around your living area, in your bags and your coats, etc. Out of sight, out of mind.
  • If you don’t think you can go cold turkey, consider getting a nicotine replacement product such as a patch, gum, or e-cigarette - trust me you’ll need it. I would not have been able to quit without my e-cigarette, I started off on a higher nicotine percentage and intend to lower it in the future to eventually quit altogether. Go at your own pace and do what feels right.
  • Try to recognize your triggers and replace those with healthier alternatives. For example, when I found myself craving a cigarette I would take myself for a walk around the block, sip on a hot drink, call a family member or friend to distract myself (sorry mum!), or even try to snack on something healthy.
  • If one of your main motivations is saving money, get a big clear jar, work out how much you typically spend on cigarettes a week and put that amount of cash in the jar every week. This way you can see the money piling up, not only does it drive you to keep going but also stops you from wasting all the money you could be saving from quitting smoking.
  • Another great way to see your savings from quitting is by using Caspian’s smoking calculator. This quick and easy tool helps you work out how much you could be saving from quitting smoking in just a few clicks.
  • Lastly, if you are planning to quit smoking, do it for you. Make a promise to yourself and keep it - you got this!

*All facts sourced from and

The details provided in this blog post should not be taken as either medical or financial advice. Please speak to your GP if you are considering quitting smoking.

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