Kicking the smoking habit for good

Clare Reilly quit smoking after being diagnosed with Alpha 1 Anti-Trypsin Deficiency. Photo: Shelley Corcoran
New Year, new you. The arrival of January spurs on the wish to start the new year afresh.

New Year, new you. The arrival of January spurs on the wish to start the new year afresh.

A common resolution, people often decide to give up smoking.

A difficult and sometimes daunting task, it requires willpower and dedication. However, it can be done, as shown by Longford woman Clare Reilly, who hasn’t smoked a cigarette in 6 and a half years.

Having started smoking over 30 years ago, Clare explains that she had to learn to smoke to fit in with her peers. Though she was often sick from it, she carried on and practiced at home, pretending she enjoyed it just to be part of the group.

Smoking approximately 20 cigarettes a day, Clare was forced to give up after being diagnosed with Alpha 1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, a disease which affects the lungs.

Clare had just sat a selection test to go back to college to study nursing. She completed the test, but shortly afterwards fell ill with what the doctors diagnosed as pneumonia.

In time, Clare received a letter from the CAO, confirming that she had earned the necessary points for her course. Unfortunately, her elation was short-lived, as she became ill again before being diagnosed with Alpha 1 Antitrypsin Deficiency. It was a “very defeating” moment Clare explains. Clare is now on the organ transplant list and on oxygen.

Following her diagnosis, Clare was smoking as she drove home. It was then she knew she would have to kick the habit.

“It was like a mountain I had to climb” she explains, but added that she “refused to be defeated”. She went to Templemichael College, where a cancellation allowed her to take on a course in Interior Design, for which the Longford woman earned a distinction. Looking back on her time in Templemichael College, Clare says that she loved the course, adding that everyone in the school was “so sincere and so nice”. It is because of the course, and the motivation it gave her that Clare believes she is as well as she is.

Now, cigarette free, Clare says that she applauds anyone who decides to give up smoking. “It was different for me because I had no choice really.”

“It was something I had to do.”

Now on oxygen, Clare says that many children ask their parents about it. “I tell them I work for Ghostbusters” Clare laughs, explaining that she then tells the child about the damage smoking does to the lungs. Clare tells them that she used to smoke and now needs medicine and new lungs.

Though she admits that prevention is key, Clare feels that the youth of today are less likely to start smoking.

“They’re a lot more educated” Clare states, adding “They’ve better things to do with their money.”

If she had her life again, the Longford woman is adamant she wouldn’t start smoking, and is keen to help others to try and kick the habit.

“It’s mind over matter really. If you want to do it badly enough, you’ll do it!”