Last week we launched Hold My Light, a new, exciting and alternative approach to taking the first steps to going smoke-free.
It’s centered around encouraging supporters – friends, family members or colleagues – to support you in your bid to give up cigarettes.
For an initial 30 days, you make a pact with one another. You go smoke-free and those who pledge to support you offer a reward in return.
Maybe as a supporter you can offer to take your pal to the cinema. Or how about treating your partner to a spa day – or a lie-in at the weekend?
Maybe you could do the washing up for a week – the options are endless.
Whatever you pledge, it’s been well documented that one-to-one support is the most popular tool for quitting cigarettes*, and research has shown that if you stop smoking for four weeks, you are five times more likely to go smoke-free for good.**
Below, we have enlisted five smokers to take up the challenge. Over the coming weeks, we will be checking on their progress - kicking off today by speaking to them about their motivations for going smoke-free.
To sign up yourself, all you have to do is visit the Hold My Light website here , where there is information on ways that can support you in quitting completely, such as nicotine patches, gums and tablets.
There are also facts about better alternatives than continuing to smoke – such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco.
'My boyfriend is going to take me to the theatre', says Sarah-Jane
Accounts manager Sarah-Jane Thomas, 28, began smoking 10 years ago after she joined in with her friends on a night out.
What started as a couple of cigarettes on a Saturday night with a few drinks has now accumulated to up to 20 cigarettes a week – a habit she would like to put an end to.
She said: “I would like to hit the nail on the head before Christmas while my motivation is high.”
Sarah-Jane is being supported by her partner Leo Feldman, 29, who has pledged to buy theatre tickets of her choice if she can give up cigarettes for the full four weeks.
“I’m hoping the fact that I have committed to a challenge I can openly tell my friends about will be the turning point,” she said.
“I’ve tried to stop in the past but on willpower alone and always started again, so I’m hoping this will be the motivation I need to quit for good.”
'My mate is going to buy me a pizza every week I stay smoke-free', says Jenna
Graphic designer Jenna Burwell would like to mark her recent 30th birthday by going smoke-free with the support of her housemate.
She has been smoking for 11 years after following what her pals were doing.
But she has now decided that enough is enough and she would like to end her 10-a-day habit.
She said: “I am quite nervous as I don’t have a lot of willpower but I’m hoping the Hold My Light challenge will not only be the incentive but will also offer the support I know I’m going to need.”
Jenna’s supporter, Laura Tavener, 27, is going to message Jenna while they’re both at work to encourage her to stay smoke-free. Laura has also pledged to treat Jenna to a pizza once a week.
Jenna said: “I’m hoping by taking part with the support of a friend it will help me, especially on the tougher days.”
'My twin says he'll take me for a slap-up restaurant meal', says Simon
Journalist Simon Cable, 35, has enrolled his best pal and twin brother Chris to kick-start his commitment of going smoke-free.
He said: “Our smoking habits have been almost identical over the years. We started just before uni, when it was still a relatively cheap habit with very little stigma attached.
“I have tried stopping in the past but have always been tempted again at social occasions when my guard was down.”
Simon is hopeful that signing up to Hold My Light with the person he socialises with the most will be the ultimate answer to putting cigarettes behind him.
He said: “We go out together of a weekend, so if Chris isn’t smoking, it’s one less temptation and we can support one another if our willpower is dwindling.”
Simon has pledged to buy his brother tickets for a Liverpool footie game, and in return Chris is going to shout his twin a slap-up meal in a restaurant of his choice.
'My brother says he's going to take me to see Liverpool', says Chris
TV producer Chris, 35, had no hesitation in agreeing to sign up to the Hold My Light campaign when his twin brother Simon told him about it.
He said: “Although I’ve been smoking all my adult life, I no longer enjoy having a cigarette. I actually feel dreadful after smoking and know I need to break the habit.
“The idea of taking part in the challenge with Simon is a massive plus. I want to support Simon and I know it will be fully reciprocated on his part. We are incredibly close and have no doubt that support and encouragement will be the key.
“Neither of us really smoke in the day. Our weakness is when we are out socialising but if we are united in our determination that will give us the incentive to stay on track. Besides which, Simon is an Arsenal fan – I can’t wait to see him sit with me at a Liverpool game."
'My dad has pledged to buy me a new golf club', says Steve
Sales manager Steve, 40, has been a smoker for 20 years, and apart from one short period when he quit for around 12 months, he has always struggled to break the habit.
Like many people, he took up smoking when all his mates were doing the same, but has now found himself in the minority.
Steve said: “I’ve realised I don’t even enjoy it any more and would like to break my habit once and for all.
“I don’t think I can do it on willpower alone, but feel that the support network Hold My Light is offering could be the answer.”
Steve’s dad Roger Brooks, 79, is to be his supporter and has offered to buy his son a golf club in return for sticking to the 30-day challenge.
Steve added: “My dad gave up smoking at my age and would now like me to do the same. His support will be invaluable.”
*NHS Digital, 2018.
**Public Health England, 2018.