Better Care

Kicking the smoking habit together - Kim and John Freeth

Kim and John Freeth with Stephen Pugh of BCHC's stop smoking service
Kim and John Freeth with stop smoking advisor Stephen Pugh

When it comes to quitting smoking, a little help from friends and family goes a very long way.

After each smoking 20 cigarettes a day for 30 years, Halesowen residents John and Kim Freeth knew the time was right to kick the habit for good.

Now the couple have been tobacco-free for two months (by Stop Smoking Day) with the help of a drop-in clinic run by Birmingham Stop Smoking Service at their local GP surgery in Bartley Green.

“We were encouraged to do it by my sister, who had managed to stop smoking after several years,” explains mum-of-two Kim, aged 49.

“We made the decision together to follow her lead; we just weren’t sure how to go about it. But as soon as I went to the clinic for the first time, I was confident I could do it.”

“Kim went first,” recalls John, aged 51. “I knew she would be a bit anxious - if someone told her there and then to stop smoking, she would have walked out and never returned.

“But immediately, the stop smoking advisor put her at ease so she knew this was something she could achieve.”

Kim’s advisor was Stephen Pugh, who joined Birmingham stop smoking service 10 years ago after winning his own battle to quit tobacco.

 “Being an ex-smoker myself, I can understand how people are feeling,” says Stephen.

“It’s not just giving advice about the medical side of it – it’s just as much about being a supportive friend.”

 “Steve’s attitude was just right,” says Kim. “As an ex-smoker, he knows exactly what it takes to give up. It felt less intimidating than going to see a doctor – I felt I was being supported, not judged.”

“I actually found it less difficult than I’d expected. I cut down to two or three a day in the first week and then stopped completely. Once John had seen what I’d managed to achieve, he came with me the following week so we’ve done it together.”

Kim and John have both used nicotine replacement patches but the greatest benefit has been from a blend of moral support and expert advice. And they have already noticed unexpected benefits to their all-round sense of wellbeing.

“The health and financial benefits go without saying but there were other unexpected rewards,” says John.

“Coffee tastes much better; and you feel in control, rather than the habit controlling you.

“Best of all, one of our sons said he was proud of us and took us for a meal as a reward.

“We both feel that the stop smoking gave us the support we needed to quit for good.”

Thinking of quitting and need some friendly, professional support? Call the stop smoking team on 0800 052 5855 or text 'QUIT' to 80800.