While health worker Barbara O’Brien knows that giving up smoking has huge health benefits, she says that the savings to be made are also a huge incentive.
It was a combination of health concerns and the reality of how much she was spending on cigarettes which prompted her to quit.
“I’m 53 now so the health concern was obvious but it’s also that they are just so expensive.”
Barbara had been smoking twenty to thirty cigarettes a day and regularly found herself coming out of the shop, having spent €35 on cigarettes and a couple of bars of chocolate. “I’d use my VISA card to buy cigarettes yet I wouldn’t do that to buy a top in Penneys.”
Having started smoking when she was eighteen after someone offered her a cigarette at her brother’s funeral, she decided last year that she would finally give up the expensive addiction.
Now, six months later, she is “delighted with myself”.
She credits the HSE support services for those giving up smoking for her success.
She started with QUIT.ie and got in touch with Madeleine Kennedy, the HSE Stop Smoking Advisor for Louth and Meath.
"Madeleine was great and gave me lots of helpful advice. She’d call me every week to see how I was getting on. She’s very non-judgemental which makes it easier, although I never fell off the wagon so it wasn’t an issue.”
Barbara says that using nicotine replacement therapy was crucial to her being able to give up and stay off cigarettes.
“I used a spray which I could take anytime I felt like I needed a cigarette. Some people use patches but they didn’t work. Some people use gum but I don’t like chewing gum. The important thing is to find what works for you.”
“It’s the tobacco you are craving, not the act of smoking, so if I’m having a cup of tea for example, I’ll have a spray of the mist.”
She toyed with the idea of giving up smoking for some time but fear of it being too difficult and of putting on weight had held her back.
“The support I got though QUIT.ie was great. I thought smoking made me feel better and I was terrified that I was going to put on weight.”
She says that while, like most people, she put on a couple of pounds over Christmas, she hasn’t ‘ballooned’.
Now that she has given up smoking, she sees what a waste of money cigarettes are.
“Look at the money I’ve saved!” she says.
She uses an app to track her progress.
“I’ve been smoke free for 137 days. I haven’t smoked 3,100 cigarettes and I’ve saved €2,000.”