Damon’s story

Care assistant, Damon Mowbray, 49, from Hartlepool, quit smoking in 2021 after suffering a heart attack while at work aged just 46. Although he has recovered and is saving money since stopping and switching to vaping, the experience has left him shaken and reflecting he could have died.

He said: “I’m happy to still here be here. But I still get upset thinking about the fact I might have died.”

“I was doing a 12 hour night shift and had a pain in my chest and became ill. I just thought it was bad indigestion but it was also affecting my breathing. I tried to get through the shift….but it turns out I was having a heart attack.

“When the paramedics arrived, they did all the necessary checks and settled me down with pain relief and morphine to help my breathing. Then they took me to James Cook Hospital and I had two stents fitted the same day. After surgery I was admitted for three days and when I saw the doctor, he said my heart attack was caused by smoking, so I knew I had to quit there and then.

“Heart problems ran in the family…it had happened to my parents and now to me. I always knew it was a risk – but not when I was still young…not having a heart attack in my mid-forties. That was due to smoking. “

White man in green top

While in hospital Damon had to start taking medication for his heart, which he has to take for the rest of his life. After being discharged from hospital, he bought himself an e-cigarette and he still uses it from time to time.

“It left me shocked and frightened and I knew I had to stop. I had smoked since I was a teenager and I’d tried to stop a few times, but I always ended up relapsing.

“Once I’d made the decision to quit, I actually found it easy as I knew that if I started smoking again, I was risking my health. I didn’t want to have another heart attack or go through the same experience again. I’m now on medication for my heart and I still get out of breath from time to time, but overall I do feel better.

“I decided to buy myself an e-cigarette to help me quit, and I have found it useful. I’ve been smokefree for a year and a half, and I very rarely use it. However, I still take it everywhere with me just so I know I have it even though I don’t use it. The plan is to eventually stop altogether.

“I have also noticed I have more money since stopping smoking. When I smoked, I was always worried about having enough money in the bank and making sure I had enough for cigarettes. I used to constantly check my bank account, but since quitting I don’t do this anymore as I always have money left in the bank each month even before I get paid from work. I was spending around £150 per month on cigarettes, so I’ve been able to save and buy things for myself and get things done to the house which I wouldn’t usually be able to do. It is also nice to have the comfort of knowing I have savings to fall back on if I need it especially with the cost of living increase.

“My advice to anyone who is thinking about making a quit attempt is don’t give up. Keep trying to quit as you don’t want to end up like me. Make sure you get support and find a quitting method that works for you.”