I couldn’t walk 20 yards without getting pains in my legs

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David McCavitt’s story.

I am a father of four, and live with my fiancée Kathryn and our 20 month old daughter, Alexa. I am a Retail Manager with Tesco’s in Banbridge. My hobbies are going to the gym, walking, mountain climbing and scuba diving. I also enjoy watching my 15 year old son playing football for Banbridge.

I had my first cigarette around the age of six or seven. My older brother and his mates were trying it, so I had a go too, and I remember feeling sick and very light headed. I became a serious smoker aged 15, and smoked 20 plus a day for 24 years.

I really enjoyed smoking for many of those 24 years, especially when I was socialising and having a drink, and I felt it helped me cope with the worry and stresses of life.

I only ever seriously tried to quit once. I realised I didn’t enjoy smoking anymore, and actually became embarrassed to be seen smoking. I knew it was killing me, and asked myself what was the point in going to the gym and trying to be healthy and fit on the one hand while damaging my health through smoking on the other hand. What I really wanted was to live as long and healthy a life as possible, and I didn’t want to smoke around my children and ruin their health.

In June 2007, a month before the smoking ban came in, I went to my GP, told him I wanted to stop smoking, and asked what help he could give me. I asked about a tablet called Champix, so the Doctor explained how it worked and prescribed it for me. I knew I was ready to stop smoking, so I picked my quit date and started the tablets. They definitely worked for me, and I became a non-smoker.

Since stopping smoking I have taken up charity treks, and completed one to Vietnam and one in Costa Rica. The next trek I’m planning is in 2014 to Borneo. I couldn’t have done any of this if I was still smoking.

When I was smoking I couldn’t walk 20 yards without getting pains in my legs because I had developed bad circulation, but now I walk in the Mournes regularly and have climbed Carrantuohill, the highest mountain in Ireland. I feel and look healthier, smell so much better than when I smoked and the house and car smell fresh now too. I can taste my food and drink much better than when I smoked, and the children are happy I’ve quit.