Stubbing out a bad habit changes a life forever

WHEN South Nowra mother of three Leah Campbell was approached to be the face of the region’s Quit for New Life campaign, little did she know it would lead to her being routinely recognised in local shopping centres.

Ms Campbell, who featured in the TV and radio campaigns, has just passed the significant milestone of having given up cigarettes for a year.

She is often stopped while shopping and asked if she is the woman on TV about the Quit for New Life campaign.

“It’s great. It means people are seeing the ad and hopefully taking it in and getting its message,” she said.

“Mind you, sometimes it can be difficult when you want to quickly dash into a shop to grab something in a hurry,” she laughed.

Delivered by the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District [ISLHD] to support pregnant women from Aboriginal backgrounds and their families to quit smoking, the program has 13 participants.

“The program has been instrumental in me giving up cigarettes,” she said.

“The support is just fantastic.”

Now 34, Ms Campbell had been smoking since she was 18 and had attempted on many occasions to break the habit.

“I was smoking between half a pack to a pack a day and when I fell pregnant with my third child I decided I had to quit,” she said.

Her son, Chris, is now five months old.

“My mum and aunties and uncles had all given up and they were way older than me, and that inspired me to do the same,” she said.

“I started taking part in the Dead or Deadly program through Waminda and that led to me giving up.

“It was hard to stop smoking at the start but it got easier as time went on.”

Slowly the cravings passed, and the many tools she learnt through the program helped her combat the temptation of lighting up, especially in stressful situations.

“You can beat smoking, I’m living proof,” she said.

Her success has even led to her partner Luke, who was also a smoker, quitting.

“I couldn’t stand him being around me when I had quit and he was still smoking,” she said.

“I’d ask him to go outside or somewhere else.

“Even now I can’t stand the smell.”

Apart from the obvious health benefits, which include having much more energy on the local netball courts, she also has extra money in her pocket.

“My kids Alleyahll and Preston do love that we have more money to do things.

“I can take to the netball court, run around and not feel puffed.

“Food tastes better. 

“I feel like a new person, my senses are more alive, it’s unreal.

“There is no looking back.”

ISLHD Quit for New Life Nowra co-ordinator Jess McNeill said the program was about providing support and encouragement for those taking up the quitting challenge.

“Smoking among Aboriginal people is on the decline,” she said.

“The prevalence of smoking among pregnant Aboriginal women has dropped from 60 per cent to 50 per cent over the last decade.”

As part of the program, the Aboriginal Maternal Infant and Child Health Service provides quit smoking advice and support through pre and post-natal care, which includes providing free nicotine replacement therapy for up to 12 weeks.

ISLHD’s health promotion service also provides quit smoking support for those living with pregnant Aboriginal women.

“Family support is vital to the success of the program and it is important to include other family members, as we’ve found pregnant women are more likely to successfully quit smoking if they live in a smoke-free home,” Ms McNeill said. 

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