John’s story

For Hartlepool man John Kenny, the inspiration to quit smoking was simple – hearing the news his son needs a lung transplant.

On learning his eldest was seriously ill and would be placed on the transplant waiting list, John knew he had to make some changes in his life.

The 66-year-old retired bricklayer had made several attempts to kick his 20-a-day habit but now he had a real reason to focus.

But quitting smoking isn’t easy and John still struggled.

While in the University Hospital of North Tees having his gall bladder removed last year, John went into respiratory failure, likely contributed to by his long smoking habit and years of breathing in dust on building sites.

While recovering in hospital, John was referred to North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust’s specialist tobacco dependency team. With the team’s support, John smoked his last cigarette on 30 September 2022, quitting as part of the annual Stoptober campaign.

John said: “I had to quit. I just had to. How can you smoke when you know your son needs a lung transplant?

“It’s not easy to pack in smoking. It’s hard and I’d tried a few times before.

“I use a vape now, a no-nicotine vape, and that really works for me.”

While still feeling the impact of his illness, John is more active than before and enjoys spending time with his partner, his two grown sons and his three dogs Ben, Kal and Ted.

Having more money to hand also has its benefits. John commented: “I think I just spend more on the dogs!

“But I have managed to buy myself a new mobility scooter and me and some friends love going for a ride down Seaton Carew beach. We went to the Hartlepool Tall Ships and had a great time.

“I’d struggle to do any of that if I was still smoking.

“I love the fresh air when I’m out and about.”

While on the ward, John was identified as a smoker, and referred to the Inpatient Tobacco Dependency Team by the ward staff. This is now a standard part of routine hospital care for all smokers.

Julie Bardsley, tobacco dependency specialist lead, said: “Well done to John! He’s worked really hard to quit and I’m so proud of him and the team who have supported him.

“No one would pretend quitting smoking is easy. Even now, John says he misses that first cigarette of the day, but he has found how to manage that craving and get past it. Taking it day-by-day is key.

“How John found the strength to do this while dealing with his son’s illness and his own condition is just incredible. He’s been so brave and strong and he’s such a character that the team have really enjoyed working with him.”

John has made incredible progress following discharge with the initial support of Smoking Cessation Service available at ASDA Community Pharmacy in Hartlepool, with an offer of additional support from Hartlepool Support Hub.