Heather Irvine says that if she hadn’t ditched her 20-a-day smoking habit she simply wouldn’t have been around to see her three-year-old granddaughter growing up.
Heather, 60, of Westhoughton, near Bolton, says with both of her parents dying in their mid 60s from smoking-related illnesses she didn’t want to go the same way.
“I gave up just before my 50th birthday, so it’s 11 years now. It was the best thing I ever did. A colleague used to say she’s never met anyone who regrets giving up smoking and that’s so true.”
Heather, who has two grown-up children, said throughout her 40s she was getting constant chest infections due to her 20 a day smoking habit.
She said: “Then for one reason or another I ended up by myself, and financially it was either smoke or pay the bills or the mortgage. That was the point I needed to give up, to save the money and to improve my health.
“Also, I’m very much a free spirit and I felt I was tied to the cigarettes. I needed to know where the next packet was coming from and it was ruling my life, and I just didn’t like it.
“I had lots of chest infections in my 40s, and they could last for months at a time. I just thought “I can’t do this anymore”.”
With the help of a stop smoking advisor and practical support such as patches and a nicotine inhaler, Heather successfully quit on her first attempt and now cannot stand smoke around her.
“The immediate effect after giving up was that my purse felt heavier! I had more energy and I wasn’t as wheezy.”
Ten years on and Heather, who is semi-retired, is loving life. She adores spending time with little Sophia and the rest of the family. She said: “My own parents died so young, just a few years older than I am now. If I’d kept smoking I might be in the same boat.”
Heather is happy to back to Don’t Be The 1 campaign, adding: “Am I surprised that one person in two will die from smoking? Not at all, with my parents it was two in two. I hope my life will be longer because I gave up, and that people will take notice of the campaign and give up for their own sakes and their families.”