Naomi O'Farrell is the Health Strategy Manager at LloydsPharmacy Ireland.
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Practicing what we preach

Naomi O’Farrell is the Health Strategy Manager at Celesio’s Irish subsidiary, LloydsPharmacy Ireland and has been a smoker for several years. Today she tells us how she managed to quit smoking and how writing a blog has helped her in achieving this goal.

More positive lives

I’ve been working in pharmacy since 2001 and have been somewhat of a hypocrite most of that time. I worked on the counter in one of our pharmacies in my home town while I was in college and regularly faced the challenge of advising/convincing customers about the benefits and methods of giving up smoking. And while I knew what I was telling them was true and believed wholeheartedly that quitting was the right thing for them to do, I wasn’t taking my own advice. 

In December 2013, I was still a smoker. And worse still, I was a smoker who was about to launch a Smoking Control service for our customers. The irony continued to be lost on me as I finalised the last aspect of our campaign by reaching out to our smoking colleagues in the pharmacies, asking them to consider quitting and to write a blog for us about their experience.

We talk a lot in LloydsPharmacy and throughout Celesio about ‘inspiring more positive lives’ and in January this year, I experienced that first hand when faced with the obvious dilemma of heading up an anti-smoking campaign while still addicted to the terrible things. How on earth could I expect my colleagues to help me promote a quit smoking service when I wasn’t prepared to do it myself?

Starting a blog

The Smoking Control Quitters' Blog
The Smoking Control Quitters' Blog

And that’s when I decided I would be the one to kick off our new Smoking Control Quitters' Blog; finally, I would start practicing what I preached and give up smoking. On the 13th of January 2014, I became a non-smoker…

Today I am still a non-smoker. And as if that weren’t enough, I’m also on Day 1 Week 3 of “The couch potato to 5k runner” programme (C25K). Honestly, I never thought I’d see the day I would be running outside!

It’s no secret that quitting smoking is the single most significant improvement you can make to your health and that once you reach the point where you start to look and feel infinitely healthier, you’ll never look back. However, the most positive aspect of this whole experience for me has been sharing the journey with my fellow blogging quitters.

This to me is what it means to inspire more positive lives – sharing your experience, your knowledge and your expertise with others in order to provide the necessary support for them to reach their goals, whatever they are. This is what we do in our pharmacies every single day.

You cannot give up smoking without support. Our bloggers talked about it time and time again; your family and friends must be behind you for you to succeed. Too many slip-ups occurred on a night out when someone offered a cigarette to one of our quitters. Throughout the past 5 months, I have been blessed with consistent encouragement and support from colleagues and friends, without which I would not have succeeded. And what’s more, some of my colleagues and friends have since chosen to follow our lead and also quit smoking. Talk about inspiring positivity!

The benefits of quitting

A four day trip to Riga cost Naomi less than a month’s worth of cigarettes.
A four day trip to Riga cost Naomi less than a month’s worth of cigarettes.

The various benefits of quitting that all the leaflets and websites and adverts talk about are true – healthier skin, shinier hair, more energy, more money, being able to breathe while walking… I don’t think I need to list them all. Sufficed to say that now I am on the other side of an admittedly tough few months, it has been worth it. In the past 5 months, I started knitting, went on two holidays, convinced my boyfriend to quit too, started cycling, started running, started swing dancing. I am undeniably a much more healthier and happier version of myself.

Long may it last! If you are considering taking the plunge and quitting the habit, there is no better time than right now. If the time is right for you, luck and willpower alone won’t do it for you – you need to work hard at staying positive, keep picturing the end game, stay focused on your goals and, I cannot stress this enough, let those around you help, not impede, your progress.

But don’t just take my word for it – check out what my amazing co-quitters went through by checking out our Quitters’ Blog. We hope that it inspires some of you to make the most positive decision you can for your health. I certainly couldn’t have done it without them.