A PREGNANT mum who quit smoking after 24 years for the sake of her family is urging others to stub out the habit.
Former smoker Christine Evans, from the Oxford Road area of Hartlepool, vowed to give up her 30-a-day habit when she learned she was pregnant with her fourth child.
Christine was so addicted she even used to avoid paying bills so she had enough money for cigarettes.
Now she is encouraging other smokers to quit during Stoptober, a national stop smoking campaign which runs throughout October.
Christine, 37, who started smoking when she was just 13, said: “I’d tried quitting so many times before but had never really had the motivation to follow it through.
“But when I recently found out that I was pregnant again I decided that enough was enough – it was time to quit for good.
“I was determined to protect the health of my unborn child by quitting.
“All of my kids had been on at me to quit for so long – they really hated the smell of it, so I wanted to stop for their sakes as well as my own.”
Christine, mum to daughters Carla, 17, Codie, eight, and Zarah, five, quit with the help of Stockton and Hartlepool NHS Stop Smoking Service and is feeling the benefits.
She added: “Looking back I was so addicted to cigarettes, that I can’t believe how much I used to spend on smoking.
“I even used to miss paying my household bills just so I had enough money in the bank to afford a pack of cigarettes.
“I feel so much healthier than I did before and can walk further without feeling out of breath.
“I also feel reassured that my unborn baby is safe and I’m also enjoying saving the money I would have spent on cigarettes and now all my bills are paid on time.
“It’s such a great feeling knowing that all my kids are really proud of me for quitting and I’m determined to continue to stay smoke-free.”
Stoptober is a new 28 day initiative from the Department of Health and is supported by the agency Fresh, Smoke Free North East.
They are encouraging the region’s 460,000 smokers to try to quit starting on October 1.
Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh, said: “Hearing from people like Christine shows that quitting can be done.”
The new campaign is also supported by a free Stoptober smartphone app, and tips and advice can be found on the Stoptober Facebook page.