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"Every time I cuddled him I put his health at risk" - Mother's warning to smokers

PUBLISHED: 08:30 01 October 2015 | UPDATED: 09:46 01 October 2015

Michelle Claussen

Michelle Claussen

Archant

A Norfolk mother has told of her guilt when it emerged her 40-cigarettes-a-day habit had played a part in her asthmatic son being hospitalised.

Michelle Claussen, 29, from Briston near Holt, spoke out as today marks the launch of month-long smoking campaign Stoptober.

The annual campaign encourages smokers to quit for 28 days or more, because stopping for that long means you are five times more likely to quit for good.

Ms Claussen began smoking when she was 12 and during the next 17 years she found herself lighting up around 40 times every day.

The mother-of-two sought help to finally quit from Smokefree Norfolk, run by Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH&C), after her six-year-old asthmatic son was hospitalised with a recurring chest infection, which had been made worse by her smoking.

“He couldn’t breathe and his lips turned blue,” Ms Claussen said.

“I couldn’t believe it when they told me at the hospital that my smoking was a major factor.

“I cried as I felt so guilty.

“I had always taken care to smoke outside and never in the house or the car.

“I thought the smoke stayed on your skin and clothes for about 20 minutes after you finished a cigarette, but now I know it’s there for hours.

“That meant that every time I hugged or cuddled him I was putting his health at risk.”

Smokefree Norfolk provided support and advice for Ms Claussen, and prescribed her Champix to combat the craving for nicotine.

Now smoke free for more than a year, she is encouraging others to follow in her footsteps and use Stoptober as the catalyst for quitting.

“My son’s health has improved immensely,” she said.

“He hasn’t had a chest infection or been hospitalised since I gave up.

“I don’t stay awake at night anymore worrying that he’ll stop breathing in his sleep.”

Fotoula Blias, Smokefree Norfolk’s service manager, said: “Michelle’s story is a real inspiration to anyone who wants to quit for good.

“Stopping smoking is one of the single most important changes that someone can make and will significantly improve their health and quality of life.

“People who quit smoking for four weeks are five times more likely to give up for good.

“If you’re serious about quitting, the Smokefree service can help you.”

For more information visit www.smokefreenorfolk.nhs.uk or call 0800 0854 113.

Have you got a story about smoking?

Email nicholas.carding@archant.co.uk

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