Bob's story: "Don't tell me how bad smoking is, tell me how you'll support me to quit"
At 55 years old, Bob has been a smoker for two-thirds of his life. He took up smoking in his late teenage years when he first had a full-time job, and has smoked around 15-20 cigarettes a day ever since.
Working as an irrigation consultant and landscape gardener, Bob says it's both his addiction to nicotine and the social part of smoking that makes it hard to quit for good. "I tend to smoke more around other smokers, and a lot of tradies, especially outdoor tradies, smoke. So it can be hard to avoid – there are always cigarettes around."
Bob's tried to quit smoking many times
Despite this, he's certainly tried to quit smoking many times. Bob's tried different methods in his quit attempts, and found that "putting my mind to it and going cold turkey" has seemed to be the best method for him. When Bob successfully quit for nine months, he found that mixing up his routine helped him avoid his smoking triggers.
"I've never been someone who smokes indoors", Bob notes, "So when I quit smoking, I stopped reading outdoors where I would usually light-up, and started only reading indoors instead. When my cravings got strong, or when I was getting edgy with withdrawal, I'd go and do something physical, like gardening, to distract me. At night when I would have previously smoked after dinner, I went and gardened by torchlight!"
Despite following good strategies and being nine months smoke-free, Bob's story of how he started smoking again is a familiar one: "I went to a party, had a drink and someone offered me a smoke and I thought 'Why not have just one?', then I had another drink and another smoke, then another, and suddenly I was smoking again. I'd been so pleased with myself for quitting smoking and now I was really disappointed that I hadn't made it last."
Now that he's smoking regularly again, Bob still wants to quit: "I think about quitting a lot. I imagine what it would be like to feel healthier and have more energy. I look at older people who've smoked all their lives and see the damage that it's done and I'd like that not to be me. The price of smoking is another good motivation to quit.
"I'm always thinking about how bad smoking is for me. When I see the quit smoking ads on TV, they just remind me of what I already know and that doesn't motivate me to quit. Rather than telling me what to do, I think this type of advertising should be telling me how there's a plan to support me. I'm not being lazy, but I don't want to do this on my own."
Taking the next steps
Bob explains that he's not the type of person who uses apps or phone lines, and he likes the idea of having a personal plan from his doctor to help him quit smoking for good: "I'd like to talk to my doctor about quitting so we can come up with a coordinated approach together. I think a written plan would work for me with practical ideas to help reduce my withdrawal symptoms – something that takes me through quitting step-by-step.
"It would be great to have tests along the way to show me what I am gaining: tracking my blood pressure and fitness. I'd find that really motivating to see my progress. I think talking to my doctor and working out this plan could really be the way to go for me."
Bob's ready to start a conversation about quitting smoking with his doctor and would like to quit together with his partner. "I know it will be difficult", he says, "But with the support of my doctor and my partner, I reckon I've got a pretty good shot at this."
Take the first step
The first step to quitting starts with a doctor. Find out how you can get the help you need.