Proud Hackney quitters

In life we’re told never to give up, to keep going – but when it comes to smoking, being a ‘quitter’ is a good thing. We’re using inspirational stories of ex-smokers in Hackney to highlight the life-changing benefits of quitting.

Meet our quitters

Ali Akpinar

Ali Akpinar - proud to be a Hackney quitter
Ali Akpinar

I would want to grab their hand and bring them to the clinic myself. I would be proud to help someone in that way.

Ali Akpinar
Ali successfully quit in September 2015 after 20 years as a smoker. Ali was born in Turkey and moved to London about fifteen years ago. He has lived in East London with his wife and teenage son since 2007. Ali started smoking whilst serving in the Turkish military.

“Being in the military was a very dark and scary experience. I had a shock one night and one of my friends offered me a cigarette to calm me and it just started from there. I never thought I would carry on smoking long term”. Ali progressed to smoking around 20 cigarettes a day and says “I would have a cigarette as soon as I woke up.”

Lots of Ali's friends and family smoke and smoking is very common among the Turkish and Kurdish communities in Hackney, especially for men; 43% of Turkish men in Hackney are recorded as smokers, and smoking is often seen as a way to relieve stress and as being a norm within the community. Ali was apprehensive about quitting, partly as it is so engrained in his culture but he was given the encouragement he needed after his wife successfully gave up with the support of the Hackney Stop Smoking service. Ali was ready to give up and was growing increasingly concerned about the impacts of smoking on his health;

“I didn’t feel good, I couldn’t walk for more than 10 minutes without getting out of breath and my friends and family all used to tell me that I looked unwell.”

Since giving up smoking 3 months ago, Ali has already noticed some positive changes in himself.

“I’m already breathing more easily, I know after 6 months I will feel even better. I’ve also got my taste back and I’m starting to enjoy my food again.”

Alongside the health benefits, Ali and his wife could save up to £3000 a year collectively with the money they will save by not smoking. Ali would like to use these savings towards buying a house in Turkey for their son.

“I felt more comfortable with Pinar. We are both Kurdish and I felt like we understood each other and could talk freely. It was nice have someone from my community who I can relate to.”

Ali was concerned about going to the Stop Smoking Service as he thought there might be language barriers between himself and an advisor. Luckily for Ali he was able to attend a Turkish language clinic and get support from a native Turkish speaker, Pinar, alongside using the medication Champix and nicotine patches to fight cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Pinar has been at the Stop Smoking Service for about 3 years. She started as a volunteer and is now a fully qualified advisor. Pinar found it really rewarding to work with Ali.

“When I first met with Ali he was really nervous and was worried that he wouldn’t be able to quit as so many of his friends smoke, but we talked about how his wife could support him and encouraged his friends to stop smoking around him,” explained Pinar. “I was so proud of him when he quit and I could see how proud he was of himself.”

Pinar is one of many Turkish speaking advisors in Hackney. Turkish and Kurdish speakers who would like support to stop smoking can talk to someone in their native language in stop smoking services all over the borough.

“I used patches but I don’t need them anymore, I occasionally use menthol lozenges if I get an urge to smoke. ”

Looking forward, Ali knows that there may be bumps along the road, but he has a method in place to deal with cravings.

Ali has had a really positive experience of using the service and is working hard to get as many of his friends as possible to follow in his footsteps.

“I now tell all my friends to go to the service. I tell them how bad smoking is for their health. If they’re not sure I reassure them and I tell them that the advisers are really friendly, helpful and supportive and they help you with which products are the best for you.”

“I would want to grab their hand and bring them to the clinic myself. I would be proud to help someone in that way.”

As Ali himself was apprehensive about using the stop smoking service, he knows it can be difficult to pluck up the courage to seek help. He speaks passionately about helping others to take the leap.
H.A Ali

H.A Ali

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Hasan Bala

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Nazmiye Baris

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Hanim Boyraz

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Alan Brooks

Alan Brooks

Paul Carlson

Paul Carlson

Ibrahim Corten

Ibrahim Corten

Lorraine Dunkley Clark

Lorraine Dunkley Clark

Kerri Layton

Kerri Layton

Abir Mohamed

Abir Mohamed

Simon O'Brien

Simon O'Brien

Thomas O'Reilly

Thomas O'Reilly

Sarah Pluck

Sarah Pluck

Paula Shaw

Paula Shaw

Joanna Thomas

Joanna Thomas

Brian Toomey

Brian Toomey

Andreena Walton

Andreena Walton

Markus Wilson

Markus Wilson

Working on it!