After smoking for more than twenty years, Wicklow man Edward Humphrey QUIT smoking when he felt his smoking was out of control. Now Edward is enjoying all the benefits of being a non-smoker and loves setting a healthy example for other men in his local Men’s Shed in Wicklow Town.
“I started smoking when I was a teenager to get friendly with a nice young girl who lived nearby and who was also a smoker. For the next twenty years or so I was a committed smoker.
“One day I realised I had just had to stop smoking. I had gone from smoking twenty cigarettes to sixty cigarettes a day.
"I was going through a very stressful time in my life and I found myself stubbing one cigarette out and lighting another.
“I knew that I didn’t want the cigarettes. I started thinking about what I was getting out of smoking and I realised I wasn’t gaining anything.
“When I stopped smoking I had strong cravings for the first two weeks but with each urge, I would say to myself that this longing for a cigarette would pass. I knew the difference between the ‘needing’ a cigarette and ‘wanting’ a cigarette.
“I had my reasons for quitting and I knew I didn’t want the smell from cigarettes or the cost of them anymore. I wanted my sense of smell back and to feel healthier and fitter.
“I was determined to not even take a single puff and slowly but surely the cravings stopped.
Two Years Later
“For the next two years I was smoke-free, until I accepted a cigarette when I was out with friends. I lit it up and smoked half of it before I realised what I was doing and put it out. The next day at work, a colleague offered me a cigarette and I said ‘yeah sure, why not’.
"It was the silliest thing I did, as after a few drags I began coughing and spluttering. It really re-enforced my decision to stay smoke-free.
“My wife also learned from me that you can quit if you want to and stopped smoking too not longer after.
What I gained from quitting
“One of the things I noticed straight away after I quit was that I always had cash in my wallet. Before my wife and I would have struggled between pay cheques. I used to go and fill up the car with petrol and wonder did I have enough to pay for it. Now I never have to worry about money. The stress of not having to worry about money was a huge burden off our shoulders.
After I quit I got a box and started popping the price of a pack of twenty cigarettes in it. Within a year there was enough money for a big holiday. My wife and I chose to go to Inis Oirr, the smallest Aran Island, in Galway Bay. My wife fell in love with the place, she loves Irish music and we’d go to the local pub at 6pm and stay until late listening to the musicians.
I also really enjoyed tasting my food again. My young fella was six years old when I quit. I remember the two of us went picking wild raspberries and blackberries from the hedgerows and the taste of them was amazing. I never remembered them tasting so good.
“After I quit smoking I definitely became fitter. I thought I’d be able to run faster but what I actually noticed was that my recovery was quicker. I would do that the Boy Scout Run and run as fast as I can between two lamp-posts and it would take me the time to pass four lamp-posts to recover. When I quit my recovery time was halved.
“I’m more aware of the impact running on my knees and hips so now I’m spending more time rambling in the hills of Wicklow. There are some beautiful spots fifteen minutes walk from my home. It’s great feeling fit enough to explore the Spink and Glenealo Valley, which is about a 14k loop.
“People say that they put on weight and I did notice that I was putting a little on so I began to eat slower. Now I savour my food and enjoy each mouthful. In the end the weight balanced itself out.
“I was part of the organising committee that set up the Wicklow Town Men’s Shed but I wasn’t a regular member until two years ago. The Sheds are designed to offer a safe, friendly and inclusive environment where men from all walks of life can work on meaningful projects at their own pace, in their own time, and in the company of other men. I really like heading down to our Shed at Dispensary Avenue in Wicklow Town. The local pigeon racing club recently offered us new accommodation and we’ve worked hard to get it in shape. In the new Shed, we have a workshop where we make bird boxes, bat roosts, plant holders and fairy doors. There’s also a wood burning stove but since I stopped smoking my sense of smell is so heightened so much so I’ve lads not to put varnished or painted wood in it as the fumes were really bothering me.
“If I had some advice for someone who was thinking of quitting or for someone who was having a tough time staying quit, I would say to them to think about what you are going to get out of quitting rather than thinking about what they are giving up.
“Write down all your reasons for quitting and stick the list somewhere you’ll see it. As soon as you quit, your body will start to recover and heal and you’ll begin to notice the difference.
The HSE’s QUIT service provides personalised, free, proven support by phone, face to face, email, SMS and live chat. We provide one to one intensive support with trained smoking cessation practitioners in 75 clinics across Ireland.
QUIT today call 1800 201 203 or sign up for your QUITplan on www.quit.ie
To find out where your local Men’s Shed is go to www.menssheds.ie or for men’s health information visit www.malehealth.ie