I don't want to get another phone call telling me that my Dad's not well

This month for Menkind, the Norfolk men's health campaign, I want to talk about smoking.

It's Stoptober, the stop smoking drive and smoking is a topic that I feel quite close to.

Everyone will know someone who smokes or who have been touched by the impact of smoking, whether they've got cancer or some other smoking related disease.

It's a common cause of early death in men and women, with half of all long-term smokers dying early from smoking-related diseases, including heart disease, lung cancer and chronic bronchitis.


My dad smokes 40 a day at least. He's now 65 and it really is a worry for me. I lost my mum earlier this year and I don't want to get another phone call telling me that my Dad's not well. It's a constant concern.

Back in the day it was kind of the norm. I would sit in my parent's car and they would smoke whilst I was sitting in the back, or I'd go to a pub with them and everyone would be smoking. The place would be full of smoke and you wouldn't think twice about going in there.

We've made great strides in the last few years with the introduction of smoking bans in public places, even in cars, but people still try to find a way to smoke if they're addicted. People often smoke because they think it helps to relieve stress but there are better ways to combat stress such as exercise, and like many other diseases you may not know you've got a health issue from smoking tobacco until it's too late.

As a footballer I was never interested in smoking. I'd always heard that smoking could restrict your growth – I'm 5ft 8, small enough as it is without smoking as well, I didn't want to risk stunting my growth too! Even in the noughties smoking was still frowned upon in a football environment yet I still knew players that smoked, they'd either have a sneaky fag after a game out of the window at Carrow Road or a few of them would light up socially on a night out.

SMOKING ITALIANSBack in the day we played Inter Milan in the European Cup at the San Siro stadium. It was a significant part of the history for Norwich City and we all turned up in the players' lounge after losing 1 : 0 and every single one of the Italian players were smoking and drinking wine. It was a cultural thing at the time, but quite a shock!

THERE IS HELPI understand smoking is a very difficult thing to kick but you start to see the benefits almost straight away. Your sense of smell and taste will get a boost and within two weeks you'll find it easier to do physical exercise as your blood circulation starts to improve. Walking up the stairs, going for a walk or a run will all become much easier, not to mention the money savings. Thankfully there are lots of things out there to help people. I've heard that E-cigarettes are a great way to help people quit and they are much less harmful than cigarettes, 95% less according to Public Health England.


There's also a useful online tool to help you find the best way to stop smoking– the triage tool online asks you three questions to find out how much you smoke and if you've tried in the past to quit. It will then help you find the best stop smoking tool for you. It's definitely worth a try.

Smoking is one of the hardest habits to crack but there are certainly enough reasons to do it when you hear the statistics . Give it a try. Make a change.

You can contact Smokefree Norfolk 0800 0854113 for help or just visit your GP or pharmacy for advice.

Darren Eadie is the ambassador for Norfolk County Council's Menkind campaign - working to convince men to look after their health.


One ex-smoker tells how he finally managed to stub out his smoking habit Austin Goreham, Senior Analyst at Norfolk County Council from Norwich, shares his quit story: 'I used to smoke between 20 and 30 cigarettes a day. My family were concerned about the impact of smoking on my health and started piling on the pressure onto me, they didn't want my life to be cut short due to smoking and obviously neither did I.

'Smokefree Norfolk give clear reasons about why I should give up, I knew it was unhealthy but I'd tried many many times before to give up and just hadn't been successful. I'd heard about e-cigarettes but not as a way to give up smoking. I just fancied trying one as an experiment and plus it meant I could vape indoors rather than going outside to smoke.

'I used it now and again and soon realised that if I had the willpower to just use the e-cigarettes for a week I could probably quit smoking real cigarettes, and that's exactly what I did.

'After that week I never smoked cigarettes again. I felt that my breathing was much improved, I felt far calmer too. As a smoker you can feel quite trapped, it makes you feel agitated and just the simple need for a cigarette can increase your stress levels. I'm really pleased I've finally been able to quit smoking, and my family are too.'


Smoking damages your lungs, leading to conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchitis and emphysema

Smoking during puberty is known to restrict growth due to the additional carbon monoxide in the blood stream

An average smoker spends £400 on cigarettes over a 3 month period

You can contact Smokefree Norfolk 0800 0854113 for help or just visit your GP or pharmacy for advice.