For 27-year-old Billie, there wasn’t a time when they didn’t consider themselves a smoker. “I just had this idea in my head that Billie smokes,” they say. “Even my friends associated me with cigarettes.”
It was different for 28-year-old Abel. “I never wanted to be a smoker,” he says. “It went from not being a social thing anymore to being a thing I do.”
“I didn’t think it was an addiction,” adds Aimee, 28. “I always thought that I could stop anytime I wanted to.”
No matter how someone starts smoking, the stories of Billie, Abel and Aimee will likely resonate with lots of LGBTQ+ people. That’s because, according to data collected by the Office for National Statistics, as of 2018 in the UK, 22.2% of lesbians and gay men are smokers, compared to just 15.5% of heterosexual people.
What Billie, Abel and Aimee all have in common, however, is that they all managed to quit.
It’s why GAY TIMES, in partnership with NICORETTE®, have collaborated with Billie, Abel and Aimee to help these three queer people share their quitting journeys while empowering others to try to stop smoking.
By sharing the lived experiences of queer people who have successfully quit smoking, GAY TIMES and NICORETTE® hope that it will help motivate others to quit for good.
Aimee realised that she needed to quit smoking after experiencing some health issues. “There have been a lot of times where I’ve felt a sense of despair,” she says. “It came to the point where smoking was something that needed to go.”
Abel is looking to have top surgery in the future. Stopping smoking is known to help with faster recovery from surgery. ”The more things that I can do that will hopefully make it a success and mean that I recover quicker, I’m going to try and do as much of that as possible.”
Billie also found that smoking was affecting their health. “I suffer from asthma,” they say. “Feeling your lungs give up on you is really scary. And after that I hated [smoking]. I hated it.”
Quitting smoking, however, is not easy and all three encountered hurdles. Aimee says being in social situations where people were smoking was one of the trickiest craving triggers to overcome. “That’s a difficult place to be,” she adds.
“The moments when I was alone,” says Abel,” that’s when the temptation was mad.”
Billie recognises that cravings and temptations are the hardest part of quitting. “Your body is detaching from something that is so highly addictive,” they say.
Of course, willpower is essential when it comes to quitting. What’s important to remember is that no one is alone in their quitting journey – there is always support out there for those moments when people need a little boost. In fact, as Billie, Abel and Aimee’s stories all demonstrate, there are numerous ways to quit.
Your doctor pharmacist or local stop smoking service can also advise you on different methods to quit smoking.
Sharing your quitting journey is one effective way to help. “The moment you open up to the people you know,” says Billie, “it definitely gives you that little boost.”
Abel found that using nicotine replacement therapy products was beneficial. “For the first couple of weeks I was using NICORETTE® gum,” he says. “It was the fact that I had a box of something in my pocket. Patting down and [knowing] I had some gum in my pocket was just a calming feeling.”
Indeed, using a nicotine replacement therapy like NICORETTE® increases your chance of successfully quitting by 60% vs willpower alone. NICORETTE® Gum acts fast to fight cravings.
“What did push me to keep going was remembering the reason why I wanted to quit,” says Abel.
Billie, meanwhile, found power in their queerness. “For queer people, willpower is the one thing you need,” they say. “I was proving to myself that I could do something that I never thought I could.”
This sense of achievement can act as its own motivator, as can the health and financial benefits of quitting smoking. “This year is the most dedicated that I’ve been,” says Aimee about quitting. “I feel really proud. With personal drive and willpower, anyone can quit.”
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To learn more from LGBTQ+ people directly, GAY TIMES are also conducting a survey about queer people and their experiences successfully quitting smoking. It’s all part of our on-going mission to advance a world where all queer people thrive. By sharing the lived experiences of queer people who have successfully quit smoking, GAY TIMES and NICORETTE® want to help bring more power to your willpower so you, too, can kick the habit.
To find out more about NICORETTE® and the benefits of quitting smoking, visit www.nicorette.co.uk.
In paid partnership with Nicorette. Individuals paid for their stories. Not all individuals used Nicorette to quit smoking. All opinions expressed are their own. Nicorette 2mg Gum contains nicotine. Stop smoking aid. Requires willpower. Always read the label. UK-NI-2201006.