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Why Guernsey's Smoking "Quitline" Expelled Us!

Updated on November 27, 2016

I guess looking back it seems quite funny now, but at the time I was furious when Guernsey's Quitline expelled us for failing to quit smoking in the first few weeks of using Nicotine patches.

My Husband Richard and I had joined the local Guernsey Quitline group in an attempt to stop smoking once and for all. It was to be the second time we had tried, the first time I had lasted six months using Zyban tablets, but was back on the cigarettes after losing my job and having had a pregnancy termination I bitterly regretted. Richard has been less successful still, and had never made it to the six month point, and after a year or so of smoking again we were now keen to have another try.

Guernsey's Quitline doesn't seem to operate the same as a UK support group as far as I can tell, and whilst they had been quite helpful when they put us on the Zyban the first time round, we were to have a very different experience on our second attempt to give up smoking.

On the second set of sessions we initially decided to try the patches method as opposed to the latest drug "Champix" (also called Chantix in some countries). There was little point in trying the Zyban again, as for some weird reason it never seems to work second time around, and all the things it made you hate about each cigarette before, (such as the nasty taste Zyban gave them), no longer seem to apply.

It quickly became apparent that patches simply weren't going to work for me, so I returned to Quitline and asked if I could try the Champix instead. Having got the slip of paper from them that enabled me to then go to my Doctor and get the Champix prescribed, I started to take them daily. Richard meanwhile was trying to persevere with the patches, but not being overly successful.

Once I got to the stage on the Champix course where I was meant to stop the smoking I did, albeit only for a few days. I soon found that the Champix were not nearly as good as my original course of Zyban had been. In the meantime Richard was back to smoking about 4 cigarettes a day, and before long so was I, (although this was still a vast improvement on the 20 - 30 per day we had both been smoking previously). Each week I attended our Quitline session as required to entitle me to the Champix, and each time I honestly completed the questionnaire that asked me if I had smoked in the previous week. Richard had missed some sessions, but when possible he had gone to a day time session in his lunch hour from work.

Realising that we would never be successful in quitting smoking if things carried on the way they were, I urged Richard to go to a further session at the St Peter Port branch of Quitline and ask them to put him on to either Zyban or Champix too, as I was certain these would have a far better chance of "curing" him than patches would, and then we could work on quitting smoking together as a couple. I knew Zyban had failed for Richard in the past, but this had been due to him playing "catch up" to me at the time, and therefore trying to stop smoking from day one on the Zyban (which is not how they work). This time I wanted him to do it properly.

Well, Richard dutifully went to the town branch of Quitline and asked to be put on to the Champix or the Zyban. You can imagine my surprise when he arrived home and said they had told him he couldn't have the prescription because he had failed to stop smoking using the nicotine patches!!! I have to confess I truly believed he had got it wrong somehow, and so I waited until my normal Wednesday evening session at the Quitline based at the local Princess Elizabeth Hospital, and took him with me to see if we could get the tablets given to him also.

As soon as we arrived and walked through the door of the portacabin that serves as the "Quitline Meeting Room", the lady who was taking that evening's session stopped talking to the one and only client she had in the "room", said "excuse me a moment" to her, and then proceeded to turn to us and talk to us in a way only a school teacher reprimanding a naughty schoolchild would. Essentially the dialogue went as follows:

Lady, looking at Richard: "My colleague has already told you that we can't give you anything else as you have continued to smoke".

Me, : "Well what about me then?"

Lady, : "You are just as bad, you have admitted that you are still smoking too".

Me, : "Yes, but only about 4 per day compared to what I used to smoke".

Lady, : "Sorry, but we don't want to add to the local tax hole by giving you subsidised drugs and you have failed to honour your commitment by continuing to smoke. We can't give you anything else for six months now"

and that was it, all we could do was turn around and leave. I was so angry, okay, sure, we might have failed, but did she need to humiliate us in front of this other woman, not to mention the two people behind us who arrived at the same time as we did. Also had she missed the point that cigarettes are so highly taxed that any we were still smoking due to weakness on our part were actually helping to fill the local governments tax black hole not add to it!!

To me this didn't feel like counselling at all, as surely if it was they would be talking to us about why we still felt a need to smoke, what was going on in our minds, what we could do to physically beat the cravings etc.... and even if they couldn't offer us drugs, patches, inhalators etc, they could surely have offered verbal counselling as part of the group in much the same way as Alcoholics Anonymous do for their clients. Where was their attempt to do their jobs and try to support us when we were struggling to quit smoking? No-where is the answer, we were only going to make their success rates look bad by not having proven to be an instant success story. To then be both patronised and humiliated in front of strangers was also enough to drive us towards both wanting and even needing a cigarette after we left her condescending presence.

So yes, we left feeling truly let down. We could have lied and claimed we were still smoke free each week, (as long as we didn't smoke for a few hours before each session), but our own honesty backfired badly, and essentially we were expelled from Quitline, or at the very least suspended for six months. I swore blind at that moment I would never, ever, go back there again in order to stop smoking as they had no clue how to deal with, or support, people with this smoking addiction who found giving up harder than they had anticipated. Instead we both quickly began smoking back at our old levels of 20 plus ciggies a day each.

Ultimately fate took pity on us, and whilst scrolling through hubpages (fag in hand no doubt), I came across the hub by Lela Bryan about her Nicotine Solutions Course and how it had a 90% success rate in spite of no drugs, patches, hypnosis etc being required. Apparently it had been going since 1974 when Lela herself gave up smoking and had then worked out exactly what was needed within a stop smoking course to ensure success.

At this point I had nothing to lose, and in spite of being quite sceptical I posted on her hub begging for help. The rest is history as many of you know, but for those who don't, I am now a year down the line, smoke free thanks to Lela, and thankfully I never needed to go back to the Guernsey Quitline that had failed us so badly. To be honest they could take a massive leaf out of Lela's book if they want to have high success rates, and truly earn their wages by genuinely helping people to stop smoking in a supportive way, and not by simply relying on artificial stimulants and drugs that they then just monitor their client's progress on, (apparently with little idea of what to do if the drugs fail and more basic methods are needed).


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    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 4 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      I sincerely hope that Guernsey's Smoking Quitline have learned many lessons since I first wrote this article. I know they are no longer based in the 'Portacabin' I described in this article, and I think they are located in the main hospital building thesedays.

      I should add that I am still smoke free (no thanks to Guernsey Quitline) for a total of 4.5 years now (date today 24th July 2013). Shame on Quitline for not being able to take this credit for themselves, but all congratulations and appreciation to Lela for doing professionally what they were incapable of doing due to a lack of counsellors who were actually ex-smokers and who therefore understood what was involved in stopping smoking and how hard it actually is.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 6 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Thanks for commenting jassmin mohamed. I am now over three years smoke free thanks to Lela Bryan, so I have much to be grateful to her for :)

    • profile image

      jassmin mohamed 6 years ago

      there are many resons

    • profile image

      21 century smoking 8 years ago

      Well this was a good hub to read today! As I have started quit smoking program to get back into shape after the holiday binge, your information is help us..thanks

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Awwww, thanks Lorlie, yes, it was pretty bad and actually encouraged us to smoke due to how it made us feel, unsupported and patronised. Luckily, as I have always believed, everything happens for a reason, and finding Lela instead was that reason (if you ask me). She achieved what every other method had failed to do, leaving me a non-smoker! I am certain you too can achieve the same if you trust her and let her help you :) Hugs :)

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 8 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      What a horrid experience you endured at this Guernsey Helpline. That woman offered you the very last thing you needed as a person trying to quit smoking-belittlement. It's hard enough!

      You are such an inspiration, misty, and I thank you.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Hi Kimberly, I think achieving what you have already is amazing, and if you can do that, then you can kick the habit of smoking. Read my hubs on the subject of how I did it, and I am sure you will feel a surge of confidence that you are capable of quitting ciggies too.

    • profile image

      lyricsingray 8 years ago

      Mitsy fantastic hub, but what a horrible experience you both went through.

      Thank you for sharing this with us. Sounds like you were in detention not counseling at all. But I am thrilled to learn you've done a full year cig free. What an accomplishment.

      As you know, I am a recovering heroin and cocaine addict but to this day I have never been able to kick the cigs. I feel cig's are the most addictive drug out there.

      I need to check out this Hub and consider to be willing to try quitting again.

      Thank you for this, it was most helpful, Kimberly

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      LOL, cheers Paradise, made it in the end anyway.

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 8 years ago from Upstate New York

      Gotta give it to y'all for persistence! Have yourself a pat on the back; have yourself a round of applause.

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Hi Sunny, thanks for commenting and pleased you enjoyed this.

      Hi Hypnodude, great insightful comment as usual, and it is so true that the addicted seem to get exploited left right and centre on the basis of profit. At least an ex-addict sincerely cares about seeing others achieve the success they have without it simply being all about business. :)

    • hypnodude profile image

      Andrea 8 years ago from Italy

      I'm a smoker, that's the reason why I don't do quit smoking hypnosis even if it's a goldmine. I can't teach what I don't do. Smoking is an enormous business but quitting smoking it's even bigger. Many people around earning money and at the end the one on the bad side is always the smoker. Someone sold me cigarettes when I was younger, and someone still does it today that everyone accept smoking is bad for health (even if a walk in a big city is just the same). When there is money involved things get always complicated.

      I liked this hub as usual mistyhorizon. And I agree with you, to have a chance of success addictive behaviors must be addressed by someone who is an ex addicted. And know what's going on.

    • profile image

      SUNNY22 8 years ago


    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      LOL back, thanks Lela, well it is funny now I look back, but thankfully I found you as a result and feel one hell of a lot better for it! Always great to see you visiting my hubs too :)

    • profile image

      Lela Bryan 8 years ago

      OMG! Misty you are so funny! I know this was not funny at the time ... but it is now that you are a care free non-smoker!

      Keep up the good work!

      Lela Bryan