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Never quit quitting says ex-smoker

Article date - 09 October 2019

That first time Michelle Winstanley tried smoking is something she will always regret.

“I started smoking at 13 at school,” she said. “I have flashbacks of that time and when I finally learnt to smoke I thought I’ve cracked it. It was peer pressure led, I thought I’d learnt something brilliant. When I got to the point I wanted to give up I was flashing back to that time thinking I was a fool.”

But now thanks to the support from Smokefree St Helens, which is now part of the wider St Helens Wellbeing service, the 51-year-old has quit smoking.

“I never believed I could quit. I have tried so many times over the years,” Michelle added. “One size does not fit all when it comes to quitting, the team at the hub look at the person before the addiction so it’s more personal.”

She is currently half way through the 12-week support programme tailored to her needs as she looks to quit.

Elaine Hesketh is also halfway through the programme and is currently down to three cigarettes a day and hoping by the end of Stoptober to be completely smokefree.

The 60-year-old said: “I was smoking 20 a day and more, every time I got stressed it was more. They were treating me for cancer and they stopped my treatment because they diagnosed COPD and that is the point where I said I was going to do it.

“Nothing had stopped me from smoking 20 a day, even when I got the cancer I never stopped smoking. I came once before years ago and I lost it, so I never came but my doctor referred me and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I’m saving a fortune.

“My grandkids are made up. They were bringing things home from school saying you’ve got to stop smoking. Now they say I’m really proud of you.”

The hub, in The Hardshaw Centre in St Helens Town Centre, offers a wide range of support and ways to help people quit smoking. The friendly team offers tailored help and will help you every step of the way.

Elaine agrees: “If it hadn’t been for Sandra I wouldn’t have done it. I came back and said I failed last time and she said there’s no such thing as failing, we’ll start again. The support is what makes the difference more than anything else.”

Councillor Anthony Burns, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Leisure and Libraries, said: “We are so fortunate to have such a fantastic place in our town that is helping so many people to give up their smoking habit for good. We can all take steps to look after our own health and we recognise how important giving people the right support can make those positive choices easier and have long term benefits for the health of our town.”

For more information visit the hub or call St Helens Wellbeing Service on 01744 371111.