Mary is a Stop Smoking Practitioner in Greater Manchester working as part of the CURE team to support hospital patients to quit smoking. She’s been in the role since September 2021, but has worked in stop smoking counselling since 2004 – and understands all too well the journey to becoming smokefree, having quit smoking herself in 2009.
Mary said: “I knew I could help people. I could share my own experiences of trying to quit as I knew first-hand how difficult it was. I know how desperate it can feel to crave a cigarette, and how the cheap prices of illegal cigarettes keep so many smokers addicted when they otherwise couldn’t afford to smoke.
“I’ve been poor. I’m a single mum of three kids who has lived on benefits. Back when I smoked, I bought illegal cigarettes for years. It was mainly because I wouldn’t have been able to afford to smoke otherwise.”
“I had smoked all of my life, after starting when I was 13. Smoking, to me, was everything. It was very much tied to my emotions – it was nerves, anxiety, anger, and back then I thought it was my best friend. When I see photos of me with my kids, I always had a cigarette in my hand.”
Since quitting smoking, Mary has dedicated many years of her career to supporting other smokers to quit.
She added: “It was working as a Stop Smoking Advisor and witnessing the extent of the damage caused by smoking that inspired me to try quitting for good. My life has improved so much since quitting. I’ve been able to save up what I’d been spending on smoking to travel the world.
“I always advise patients that it’s best to quit smoking altogether – and now that I’m more aware of the illegal tobacco trade, I do think it’s something that needs to be stopped.”
For every smoker who wants to quit, and so all our children can grow up smoke free, let’s keep illegal tobacco out of our communities and make smoking history.