Norfolk woman gives up smoking after 58 years

Stephen PullingerTwo Norfolk women are proud to be an inspiration to others on No Smoking Day - both having successfully kicked the habit after more than 50 years.Stephen Pullinger

Two Norfolk women are proud to be an inspiration to others on No Smoking Day - both having successfully kicked the habit after more than 50 years.

Joan Plummer, 67, of The Staithe, Belton, near Great Yarmouth, began smoking at nine when her mother gave her a cigarette to calm her nerves when she had her ears pierced.

After a lifetime's habit or more than 30 a day and numerous attempts to give up, it was the attitude of her 14-year-old granddaughter Laura that finally spurred her to do it.

She recalled: 'She used to walk out of the room when I was smoking or come in coughing. Now she runs in and says, 'Nan, you and the house smell lovely'.'

Joan, who retired to Norfolk from Harlow, Essex, where she had worked in a factory, remembered buying cigarettes with her school dinner money. 'It was horrendous', she said.

She said that her habit had caused more than a few rows with her late husband Robert, a non-smoker, 'but the more he nagged about it, the more I smoked - it was simply defiance.'

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After suffering a heart attack last March, she was referred to Linda Robinson, a stop smoking advisor at James Paget University Hospital, Gorleston, and her moral support and a course of tablets to combat the craving finally did the trick where three courses of acupuncture had previously failed.

'She had been a smoker herself and understood the difficulty,' she said.

Joan, who has not smoked since August, said even contemplating buying a packet now made her physically sick.

She said: 'Apart from feeling better, I am saving at least �130 a month which I am saving to take the grandchildren away in the summer.'

Her youngest daughter Natalie Farmer, 40, who contacted the EDP about her mother's achievement, said: 'I am so proud of her. I want to tell the world.'

Meanwhile, Vera Duffield, 68, of North Walsham, is celebrating her achievement of kicking the habit after half a century by attending a No Smoking Day event at The Forum, Norwich, today.

The event, being organised by Norfolk Community Health and Care's Norfolk Stop Smoking Service, is providing people with an opportunity to get informal advice from stop smoking advisors.

For Vera the crunch came last November when she was rushed by ambulance to hospital after collapsing in the middle of the night gasping for breath. She was told she had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, permanent lung damage, which had made her airways so narrow it was nearly impossible to breathe out.

She said: 'I was so frightened, it felt like I was drowning. When I came round I remember my two sons sitting by my bed begging me to give up smoking.'

With the support of advisor Katie McGoldrick, from the Norfolk Stop Smoking Service, she has finally renounced her 20-a-day habit.

'It's fantastic. I feel so much better -full of the joys of spring. I can walk much more quickly and can get to the shops without stopping once.'