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01 September 2010

The European Smokefree Quitter of the Year 2009 Stories


Anna Brathwaite, 32, from Bulgaria

Anna was a smoker for more than ten years since her days at college, smoking to let off steam and cope with the stress of exams.
Anna stopped on Valentine’s Day 2009 when she discovered she was pregnant, having already reduced her cigarette intake in preparation for becoming pregnant. Sadly, Anna lost the baby she was carrying, but was determined to remain smoke free with the support of her husband and friends.  Anna has noticed an improvement in her appearance, health and lifestyle and feels free from her habit.


Lubomir Pyrochta, 41, from Czech Republic

Lubomir smoked 20 cigarettes a day for 15 years, and had tried to quit several times. Lubomir quit smoking to set a good example to his children, to strengthen his self confidence and improve his finances. Since he quit, Lubomir has noticed his health improving – he is now a keen table tennis player and plays regularly with his 9 year old son. He also has more time to spend with his family, is more productive at work and has noticed his senses – especially taste, scent and hearing – improve.



Mikko Veijalainen, 40, Finland

Mikko had tried to quit throughout his 21 years as a smoker, but his partner’s increasing insistence that she wouldn’t kiss him if he smelt like an ashtray spurred him on. Mikko decided he didn’t want to smell of smoke and to wake up with a bad taste in his mouth any more. He put his last cigarette out at midnight on the day he quit and threw the rest of the packet away. Mikko’s family were a great support - helping him to resist temptations and he has resolved to remain smoke free. ;


Run Knutsdottir, 27, from Iceland

Run was a smoker for ten years and suffered from pains in her lungs and breathing difficulties. She was also disgusted with the way smoking was holding her back from doing things in life, as when she joined a rescue team she realised what a hindrance smoking was. Run read up on the benefits of quitting and her attitudes to smoking changed. She has felt the benefits she read about, as Run now has better stamina, can exercise more as well as enjoying it more, sleeps better and has healthier skin and hair.



Fabiola Valentini, 30, from Italy

Fabiola smoked half a pack of cigarettes a day for 13 years. She felt she wasn’t smoking a lot and thought it helped her to relax and be more self-confident. But her attitude started to change – she no longer enjoying being a smoker and didn’t like the smell or taste. She began to look on cigarettes as an addiction, not as a way to relax or something to hide behind. She no longer wants to leave the dinner table to smoke and is more confident. Fabiola fought the physical and psychological addiction she felt, and is enjoying her life free from cigarettes.


Laura Kontante, 28, from

The young mother smoked 20 cigarettes a day for 9 years, stopping when she was pregnant, but soon starting again. Laura felt ashamed of the habit, both because of her young family and because of society’s changing attitudes towards smoking. She was always looking for places she could light up a cigarette and was worried one day her child would see her smoking. Her friend had quit and Laura thought if he could do it, then she could do it too. In previous quit attempts, Laura used to envy smokers, but this time she doesn’t.


Cynthia Daals, 40, from

Cynthia felt her life was consumed by smoking, never more so than when her father died of lung cancer in 2008. Cynthia wanted to live a long and healthy life for her children and family, and felt she had no self discipline as a smoker, so called Dutch helpline STIVORO for advice and support. The day Cynthia quit smoking, she stopped coughing and a month later she started running to improve her health. Her house now smells clean, Cynthia feels fresh and healthy and that she is free from the influence of cigarettes.


Lukasz Sulima-Dolina, 22, from Poland

After smoking for 7 years, Lukasz stopped on his 20th birthday. A previous battle with his weight proved to Lukasz that if he put his mind to something he could do it. He told himself that if he could lose more than 30 kilograms, then he could lose the cigarettes from his life. So he decided to quit smoking to improve his health even more and stop it deteriorating in the future. Lukasz feels stopping smoking has strengthened his character and his willpower. He is now planning to run a marathon as his next challenge.


Teresa Gomes, 45, from

Teresa stopped smoking as she was worried about her health - as she felt sick and lethargic - as well as the health of those around her including her daughters. She was afraid to stop as she thought she would become aggressive to people around her, so she quit with the help of counselling. Teresa is grateful for the support she received from the counselling which she felt made a difficult process easier. Teresa also received support from her friends and family and now values her improved health and quality of life.


Francesc Rochera, 53, from Spain

Francesc had smoked for more than 30 years, but seeing his wife fight breast cancer just eight months after giving birth to their son spurred him into quitting smoking for good. He wanted to support his wife in her fight and felt he was threatening his own health by smoking. Francesc’s decision has improved his health – he no longer suffers from headaches, breathing troubles or coughing. Francesc and his family are very proud of his achievement and are looking forward to the future together.


Barbara Cowell, 40, from UK

Barbara smoked 30 a day since she was 13 years old. She had never tried to quit until a mouth cancer scare in 2008. While at a dental check-up, white spots were found under Barbara’s tongue, which was diagnosed as early stage mouth cancer. Shocked by the diagnosis, Barbara stopped smoking immediately and has since been given the all clear. Stopping smoking has changed Barbara’s life – she is now healthier thanks to swimming regularly and has managed to save money which she is spending on her home and family. She just wishes she had quit smoking sooner.


Supporter Award – Lynne Speirs,
This award recognises the work of health professionals who have helped smokers to quit.

Lynne is a healthcare assistant in a doctor’s surgery in Southampton, where she runs the successful smoking cessation programme Quit4Life. Lynne has also trained fellow advisors, and one was so inspired by her approach that she nominated her for this award. In her nomination, Lynne is described as determined and optimistic with a non judgmental approach. Patients often feedback on how supportive and positive Lynne’s interventions are. She encourages patients to change their routine by adopting a healthier lifestyle, often negotiating free gym visits as an incentive to help smokers stop. Well done Lynne.


Progress Award – Pieter Amir,
This award celebrates the work of people who have made a difference to smoking cessation in their country.

Pieter Amir has campaigned for a change in approaches to smoking cessation in a mental health facility. He is a residential counsellor at a psychiatric residential treatment facility. When Pieter started working at the facility, he was surprised at the number of smokers amongst patients and staff. With his manager, Pieter asked Dutch helpline Stivoro for assistance in training. They also printed t-shirts and posters and reserved money to be spent on Nicotine Replacement Therapy for the patients. This was the first smoking cessation project in a psychiatric institution in The Netherlands and Pieter uses his enthusiasm and hard work to fight for this as a permanent item on the programme. Well done Pieter