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13 November 2014
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Smoking c/o PA Images

Kicking the smoking habit - not easy.

Giving up smoking

With around 20,000 people dying from smoking-related diseases in London, it's unsurprising that giving up smoking is one of the most popular New Year's resolutions. We follow Linda Robson and her sisters as they attempt to kick their smoking habit.

Actress Linda Robson and her two sisters Debbie and Tina made their New Year resolution to quit smoking.

There are approximately one million smokers in London and around 80% percent of them want to quit.

With Christmas and New Year fading fast, January is estimated to be the most successful time to stub out.

Linda Robson and her sisters were up for the challenge.

Inside Out follows the 'Three Must-Quit-eers' as they attempt to kick their smoking habit.

They will try a range of weird and wonderful methods available to smokers today and record video diaries of their cravings and confessions.

Picking up the habit

Linda Robson, a confessed chain smoker, was struggling to kill her 40 a day habit.

"I started smoking on a school trip - a group of us said we would smoke for a few days then quit when we got home… it never happened."

Peer pressure and a lack of information may have been responsible for her sisters Tina and Debbie taking up the habit early too.

Linda Robson

Linda Robson - trying kick the habit.

They both started under the age of 16 when trying to fit in with the crowd was the most important thing for them.

Tina confessed: "I started smoking on the bus to school. I didn’t like it but I wanted to be like everyone else".

Debbie the youngest had a similar story to tell.

"The first time I started smoking I felt dizzy and sick and was thinking 'why am I feeling like this when the people smoking with me seem to be enjoying it?'

"So I continued because I wanted to get where they were. It was exciting and scary because we weren’t supposed to be doing it."

Taking the first step

The Robson sisters are no strangers to the damage caused by smoking - their father died of lung cancer and other close family and friends have struggled with smoking- related illnesses.

Giving up smoking - tips

Consultant psychologist Dr Liz Mitchell's Top 10 Tips to kick the habit:

1. Smoking is a habit - keep a record of where you smoke, when you smoke, and with whom. Most people smoke at particular times. Predicting these times will help you to get some control.

2. When you smoke, do nothing else - don’t watch TV, eat, drink at the same time. Our behaviour is conditioned. Cutting out cues to smoke helps. Smoke in the freezing cold - you won't like it as much!

3. Take up exercise. The fitter you get the less you will want to smoke. Many smokers have psychological problems. Exercise will help these.

4. Hang around with people who don't smoke.

5. Write a list of all the reasons you want to give up, Set yourself goals. Reward yourself for progress.

6. If your family smoke, start a competition between you. Leave the room if someone lights up. Get your friends to help by refusing to give you money/cigarettes. If you are a parent don't smoke with your kids. It's not OK to smoke.

7. Think about what you believe about your smoking - do you like yourself?

Have you succeeded at other tough tasks?

8. Join new groups who don’t smoke. Take up new hobbies. Learn new skills if you are shy.

9. Don't start! It's not cool, it stinks and it's expensive. Depend on friends not nicotine.

10. Do you smoke to relax? If so, take up yoga or meditation.

They have all been affected and in the past have tried quitting on several occasions.

"My mum had three heart attacks caused by smoking and I booked her in for hypnotherapy. I realised I was pregnant and booked my self in too," says Linda.

"It worked - I quit for 17 years. A year ago I had a cigarette on my 50th birthday, then at a hen do, but it wasn’t till one day last year I went into a shop and bought a packet of 20 that I was hooked again."

Linda jokes that Tina is the vain sister and, when it comes to quitting smoking, weight gain is one of the largest fears for women.

Tina owns up: "I tried stopping lots of times, the longest period I quit was six months, but I put on weight - that was my biggest issue. I’ve been hypnotised twice but I always wanted a cigarette."

Debbie’s thoughts highlight the gamble she feels she is playing with her life every time she smokes: "It's sort of Russian Roulette, your smoking and you know you shouldn’t be, 20-30 years of smoking will catch up.

"I should quit now before I go into later life and do the real damage."

The guilt ridden sisters understood their habit was a bad one and they have all at one point in their life found ingenious ways of hiding it from their loved ones.

If it's squirting the air outside the front door with air freshener to hiding the back draft of smoke when entering the house or just spraying themselves with perfume, the Robson sisters have been there seen it and done it.

Linda even inflicted her habit on the dog, using his walks as an excuse for a quick puff.

"The dogs never been walked so much he needs recuperation he is so warn out!"

Tina has tried more subtle methods: "I’ve hid round the side of the house to smoke and stuck my head up the chimney. I’ve tried all sorts".

Tricks and tips aside it is a sobering thought when Tina explained she feels partly responsible for her children smoking.

This could explain why Tina in social situations will pretend for as long as possible that she is not a smoker.

"Smokers are frowned upon. I’m embarrassed to stand with the smokers," she says.

Consultant psychologist Dr Liz Mitchell explained that it is normal for smokers to want to hide their habit similar to how teenagers hide their cigarettes under their bed.

They know it is wrong - however we have to remember "smoking is instant gratification".

In January 2009 the Robson sisters take time to try different quitting methods from yoga breathing exercises, interactive quitting computer games, and bio-resonance to old wives' remedies.

But will they succeed?


Smoking - giving up can be very tough.

At the beginning of their campaign to quit all three sisters were upbeat determined and ready to fight the fags.

Linda says, "I want to quit. I hate the fact that I’m hooked. I will try anything to stop".

Tina agrees, "I want to quit for my health, when you're younger, you don’t think about the repercussions.

"But now I feel I'm worrying more and more. I'm hoping my chances of stopping smoking are better than when I was younger. I hope not to be standing with the smokers after this."

Debbie also wants to stop smoking, "I’d love to stop smoking because obviously my age, because it’s anti social, because it’s ignorant because you smell and I’m a smoker!

"I hope what I try and with my determination that will be enough."

Getting started

A few days into the trail we find out how are they dealing with their cravings.

It is evident that this is going to be a challenge for the Robsons - they want to quit but each admit to enjoying the habit and seeing it as part of their everyday life and socialising.

Linda is frustrated by her cravings and announces:

"People who have never smoked don’t understand - it's part of having a biscuit and a cup of tea. It is scary it has killed people in my family but I need to try harder."

Debbie expresses the importance of being mentally prepared to quit.

"You’ve got to get the right head on and know you're gonna stop, but there’s always different things coming up and after that your gonna stop but you don’t…

"I do need to get it into my head a date and say that’s it - the last cigarette - put it out - finished."

Lifestyle changes

Dr Liz Mitchell explains that smoking is a lifestyle choice.

No smoking sign

Stubbing out cigarettes - for how long?

She says, "Short term changes don’t work," and stresses the importance of making "life style changes".

She recommends that smokers create 'behavioural records' which allow them to identify the high risk situations of when they reach for a cigarette and can think of new ways to prevent it.

In its simplest form if the smoker identifies their first cigarette is associated with coffee in the morning at home, try drinking orange juice or having the first coffee at work.

Dr Mitchell expressed how important it is "to remove temptation".

So will yoga breathing exercises and playing on the Nintendo DS help these sisters make the fresh start they need in January 2009?

Read Linda Robson's smoking diary to find out:

Help at hand

If you need advice on quitting or for more information visit the following websites:

last updated: 15/01/2009 at 14:53
created: 14/01/2009

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