Where to find free help to quit smoking as Coleen Nolan kicks habit

Coleen Nolan revealed she thought she was going to die after a chest infection left her struggling to breathe. (Getty Images)
Coleen Nolan revealed she thought she was going to die after a chest infection left her struggling to breathe. (Getty Images)

In time for National Quit Smoking Day, Coleen Nolan has opened up about a health scare that pushed her to quit smoking after 40 years of lighting up.

The Loose Women star, 58, told The Mirror that she developed a chest infection that left her struggling to breathe. The experience was so frightening that she thought she would die.

"I literally couldn’t walk a few feet without stopping to catch my breath," she said. "It was the scariest thing, feeling constantly winded."

She saw a doctor after being persuaded by a colleague on the ITV panel show and was put on antibiotics, but her condition worsened in early December when she went to meet her partner, Michael Jones, at a hotel.

"I met Michael outside the hotel and by the time we’d gone up in the elevator and walked a few paces to my room, I was gasping and trying to say that I couldn’t breathe," Nolan recounted.

"I had a full-scale panic attack and the more stressed I got and the more I cried, the less able I was to breathe. I genuinely thought, ‘I’m going to die in my hotel room, away from home’. It was really frightening. The whole thing lasted two minutes but it felt like an hour."

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 08: Coleen Nolan attends the Pride of Manchester Awards 2019 at Waterhouse Way on May 8, 2019 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Carla Speight/Getty Images)
Coleen Nolan said she has smoked 35 cigarettes every day for the past 40 years - until three months ago. (Getty Images)

She later made an emergency appointment with her doctor, who warned her she might be at risk of emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease because of her smoking. Thankfully, her X-ray gave her the all-clear, but Nolan said it felt "like the universe was saying, ‘This is your last chance’".

After 12 weeks of giving up smoking, Nolan reflected on how difficult it has been because she smoked 35 cigarettes a day since she was 12 years old. In a separate interview with The Sun, Nolan estimated she has spent half a million pounds on cigarettes throughout her lifetime.

Free resources to help you quit smoking

As Nolan said, quitting smoking is no easy feat as the nicotine is very addictive and the habit can become ingrained in everyday routines.

If you are thinking about giving up smoking, nicotine expert Markus Lindblad, from Haypp, provides the easiest, free resources available in the UK that could help you begin your journey.

Close up of a woman throwing a pack of cigarettes away in a bin
Quitting smoking can be hard, but there is help out there. (Getty Images)

Support groups

"There is a huge variety of free support groups available to anyone over the age of 12 in the UK," Lindblad said. "I think it is important to note that these services are not exclusive to adults and they provide both group and one to one support as well as free nicotine replacement.

"There are generally no waiting lists and appointments can be made in person, over the phone or via a video call, so it’s suited to different lifestyles."

Alternative products

Vaping has recently come under scrutiny due to its soaring popularity among young people. While nicotine vaping is not completely risk-free, it is substantially less harmful than smoking, and can serve as a way to quit smoking.

It is recommended by the NHS for adult smokers, to support quitting smoking and staying quit. Some local services or online providers offer free products, such as a vape or tin of nicotine pouches, to trial and help quit smoking.

Tracking apps

Lindblad recommends using one of many free tracking apps that help you monitor your progress as you work towards quitting smoking.

"The NHS app, for example, can track your progress, see how much you're saving and provide daily support to help on your quitting journey. Tracking your success is a great motivator."

Online forums

"Thanks to the [online] world, we can easily find other people in similar situations to ourselves to help and support the burdens of quitting smoking. If you tried to quit before, and others have tried to help too, it can feel like a real uphill battle to start again. But thanks to online forums and chat rooms it’s easy to connect with others in the same position and hold each other accountable."

Girl math

You may have heard of the trend ‘girl math’ on social media, which Lindblad said can be a great way to help people quit smoking.

On way to utilise the trend is "to physically withdraw the cash that you would normally spend on cigarettes", Lindblad suggests.

"Add this to a jar that needs to be broken to open, or hand it over to a trustworthy friend. It’s motivating and surprising to see just how expensive it is to smoke and seeing the cash stack up is sure to help you quit for good."

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