Skip navigation and jump to content
Welcome to Ireland's Youth Information Website
Follow us
Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Snapchat

Accessibility Options

High Contrast Text Size

No smoke without fire

A quitter's diary

Written by Aisling Ni Neachtain and posted in opinion

This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for please contact

"I started smoking when I was 12 years old. That means I’ve done 8 years of damage to myself. 8 years of addiction. 8 years too many."

Share this article -

For years now I’ve responded to quips about how “smokers are jokers” with a sharp, well-rehearsed “well, I’d rather be a joker than a quitter”.  Now, I find myself short of breath, scared for my health, broke, watching friends and family around me drop like flies.  I’m ready to be a quitter.  I’m ready to look after myself.  Most of all, I’m ready to be the master of my own mind and body; not to be ruled by an addiction.

I started smoking when I was 12 years old.  That means I’ve done 8 years of damage to myself. 8 years of addiction. 8 years too many. Thinking back, I honestly couldn’t tell you the real reason why I started, but I kept going because I liked how it made me feel.  It was like magic.  One cigarette and it was as if all my stress melted away, if only for a few minutes.  If you’re wondering what real stress a 12 year old could be under to constitute dependence on cigarettes, I would just like to put it out there that I’ve struggled with mental health issues for a very long time, and I know I’m not alone.  A lot of my friends have been smokers for the same or similar reasons.  Now though, I see that this dependency is not a help, but a hindrance.

I’ve tried to quit before, obviously with little success.  What’s different this time, however, is that I’ve seen one-too-many lives ruined by cigarettes.  In the space of five years I’ve lost my grandfather to vascular complications, had two uncles diagnosed with emphysema who are now dependent on oxygen and inhalers, and nearly lost my father to a series of blood clots.  I think living with my father in and out of hospital, on warfarin for life, and recovering from multiple surgeries has finally scared me enough; it doesn’t get much closer to home than that.  The scare tactics used by anti-smoking campaigns never hit me as hard as the reality of facing a life without my dad, or the reality that – at age 50 – that could be me.

All of that is not to say that I’ve gotten this far unscathed either, by the way.  I’ve had to have medications changed as I was at a much higher risk of developing blood clots by virtue of being a smoker.  I’ve never been the fittest, but I get winded running up the stairs or tying my shoes.  My skin isn’t great; I have lines already.  On top of all that, I dread to think what my lungs look like.  A few months ago I decided to go vegan in attempt to improve my overall health (and for profound moral reasons). Now, I feel like the only thing standing between me and the health and wellbeing a 20-year-old should have, is cigarettes.  Besides, vegan junk food can be pricey, but much more fulfilling. I think of it as an upgrade for my health and my wallet.

I’m entering this attempt with a lot of hopes.  I hope that I’ll be able to foresee the pitfalls that stopped me the first time, that I won’t let the stress get the better of me, and that I’ll be so much better off without them.  For someone as strong-headed as I am, you might think it would be easy, but honestly, nothing makes me feel as powerless as cigarettes.  Hope is a powerful thing, though. That, combined with a lot of motivation and a total lack of funds might just be enough to get me through this and out the other side addiction-free.

Disclaimer: There is more than one way to quit smoking. You may need to try a few different things to find what is right for you. For advice and support on quitting, visit​

Share this article -

Published Decem­ber 7th2015
Last updated Jan­u­ary 25th2019
Tags smoking opinion
Can this be improved? Contact if you have any suggestions for this article.

Need more information?

Request to speak with a youth worker in your area over the phone, by email or text. They may be able to assist you by providing further information specific to your needs.

Youth Work Ireland - Crosscare - YMCA

Contact via: Phone E-mail Text
By clicking submit you agree to our terms and conditions. ​Please note that this service is run by Youth Work Ireland and Crosscare​.​ E​nquiries are not handled by directly.
Jump to related articles
Was this article helpful?

Having a tough time and need to talk?
Text SPUNOUT to 086 1800 280 to chat anonymously with a trained volunteer

Standard text rates may apply*