After smoking for nearly 40 years; reality TV star Sinitta has put down her lighter for the last time and is now encouraging the nation to get behind the Stoptober quit-smoking campaign.
Stoptober is back to launch its 10th mass quit attempt on 1 October, calling on smokers in England to join the 2.3 million others who have attempted to stop with the campaign since it launched a decade ago in 2012, according to Public Health England’s monitoring evaluation data.
Sinitta, 57, began smoking when she was 16 years old – and despite reducing her smoking behaviour to only socially from the age of 22 – she quit fully at the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
And the American-born singer, who has vowed to never return to her previous addiction, revealed her decision to start smoking as a teenager was amongst the worst of her life.
“I started smoking because you'd see it in all the cool movies, with James Dean and Joan Crawford,” said Sinitta. “I did it to look older and you used to be able to smoke in nightclubs and restaurants in the 80s and I wanted to be part of that scene.
“I used to buy two packets a day of the menthol cigarettes with white tips. I used to share them, so I probably was smoking 20 a day.
“I was unwell very early in the lockdown. We didn't know a lot about it then but we knew some people were dying.
“It seemed insane to even think about smoking. As I was only smoking socially and we were all in isolation, I wasn't around smoking as well.
“The combination of being ill and not wanting to do anything that would make my health and my lungs any worse, and not being around other smokers, I was able to make that decision and stick with it. Now, I will never go back. I can't even stand other people smoking near me!”
A new nationwide survey of 2,000 current smokers found that nearly half (45%) have been smoking more since the first lockdown began.
More than half of smokers want to quit, and three-quarters (75%) would never have started smoking if they could go back in time.
Of those who want to quit, more than half (55%) would like to do so to improve their physical health or to save money (52%).
“I didn't notice I was having health difficulties when I was smoking,” added Sinitta. “Now I've given up, I can breathe easier, I don't have the smell on me, and it's the fitness level I didn't realise I could have. When I'm exercising, I'm not out of breath as quickly, my voice is clearer, my hair and skin are better.
“That's why Stoptober is so great - if you can smoking and remain smoke free for 28 days, you are 5 times more likely to quit for good. It's only 28 days!”
Sinitta is now aware that quitting smoking brings huge improvements in respiratory and cardiovascular health and is grateful to have quit to take better care of her health.
And Sinitta, who is currently appearing across the country in Chicago after a more than 25-year absence, is encouraging everyone to quit smoking if they can. As having a support network around her was one of the best methods to support her quitting journey, alongside creating a smoke free atmosphere.
“I've gone back to the theatre for the first time in 26, 27 years and to be singing live in Chicago, eight shows a week, plus travelling at my age, I feel like I could do anything,” she added.
“It's mind over matter and giving up smoking shows I have willpower and discipline. My voice is stronger than it's ever been and clearer. I'm feeling healthier than I did when I was younger.
“I'm loving it - I'm rejuvenated! Everyone's amazingly talented. The music's great and we're just having the time of our lives.”
Stop smoking expert Louise Ross developed quit-smoking tips to support those who plan to quit with Stoptober this year:
1. List your reasons to quit
2. Tell people you're quitting
3. Remember what has worked
4. Use stop smoking aids
5. Have a plan
6. Change your routine
7. Keep busy
8. Exercise away the urge
9. Learn from others who have quit
10. Remember, not a single puff
Ross said: “There is a range of support available including stop smoking aids, digital tools and expert help from local stop smoking services to help your quit-smoking journey. Not to mention ways that you can prepare yourself to quit such as being prepared for triggers, making changes to your routine in order to resist cravings and getting the support from your friends and family to keep quit. . Joining the thousands of others who are quitting with Stoptober will help keep you motivated to get through the Stoptober’s 28 days and beyond and will boost your chances of quitting for good.”
Sinitta is supporting the Stoptober campaign, encouraging smokers to quit this October, as if you quit for 28 days, you are 5 times more likely to quit for good. Search ‘Stoptober’ for a full range of quitting support options.