QUITTING smoking takes drive but Judith Currie is proof it is worth going the extra mile.
As a smoker for 20 years, Judith went from zero to 30 a day after taking up the habit when she was just 14.
The addiction took over her life – and finances.
In that time, the price of a pack shot up from £1.65 in 1990 to today’s average of £7.72.
Her costly crutch was setting her back about £10 a day when she quit in 2010 – money she has since saved to buy her dream car.
It took just eight months to raise the funds needed for her Golf convertible – and she has also spent cigarette savings on new clothes and a trip to Ireland.
She said: “It is incredible both the financial saving and the realisation of how much you actually spent on it. Each Budget, you’d just accept that cigarettes had gone up, it’s not a deterrent.
“But because cigarettes had gone up so much in the time I was smoking up until when I gave up, it was a massive saving.
“If you’re a smoker, you’ll always find the money for cigarettes and for me it was to the cost of food sometimes. It acts as an appetite suppressant so I wouldn’t necessarily want food when you have a cigarette.
“Giving up has allowed me to do so many new things, like buying the convertible I’d always wanted, even in the Edinburgh weather.”
The 38-year-old, of Craigentinny, successfully took the plunge after being diagnosed with emphysema – which has left her lungs at 50 per cent capacity.
She spent two days on nicotine patches and had individual therapy, before group sessions, with smoking cessation specialists.
Judith said she is now feeling physically and mentally fitter than she has for decades.
“My health is so much better, unfortunately the damage has been done to my lung function, but it’s scary as I’d say this is probably the healthiest I’ve been for more than 20 years.
“It’s a lovely feeling, it’s such a warmth and a sense of achievement. I don’t think people understand what a massive accomplishment it is to give up. Quitting smoking is the single best thing I’ve ever done in my life. It has been a catalyst for my self-confidence and a real turning point for me.
“I think about six months ago, I noticed the price again. Some might think it was a smug smile but it was more a ‘thank God I don’t buy them any more’.”
Judith, who now works with the smoking cessation programme, is helping record numbers of people give up and cut the annual 1800 death toll still further in a bid to make a Smoke Free Lothian.
ASH Scotland chief executive Sheila Duffy said there were many benefits to quitting.
She said: “A 20-a-day smoker can save over £2500 a year by quitting. And with smoking rates concentrated amongst poorer communities, reducing the smoking rate provides a targeted way of putting money directly into the pockets of those who need it most while tackling one of the main causes of health inequality. Using the tax system to increase the price of cigarettes has proved to be an effective way to encourage people to quit smoking, although the harm caused by smoking still costs Scotland £100 million a year more than the tax revenue it generates.”