With the start of a new year, we normally see the influx of well-intentioned hopes for the year ahead.
It’s a reflective time for many people, bringing new possibilities, resolutions to conquer, healthier choices to make, and targets to hit, both personally and professionally.
Giving up on any of these ‘new year, new me’ incentives isn’t something we wish to encounter on our quest to realising our full potential so early on in the year.
But for Keiran Brown, Medical Secretariat in Respiratory, giving up on day one wasn’t up for negotiation.
After battling with his addiction to nicotine for the best part of a decade, the 26-year-old decided enough was enough.
And whilst the rest of us vowed to choose the banana over the donut, to pick up the dumbbell instead of a pint, Keiran decided to opt for sweet fruits in lieu of cigarettes.
“I started a health-kick at the beginning of the year, and since I’ve stopped smoking, I’ve been craving sweet food. Luckily, fruit does it for me,” Keiran said.
In December 2023, Keiran decided that he needed to kick the habit, not least because he works in the Respiratory department and sees the detrimental effects long-term smoking has first-hand, but to preserve his voice, too.
The aspiring vocalist, known by stage-name KINGSY, joined the Help2Quit service in the hopes that it would support and encourage him whilst holding him accountable.
Help2Quit is a free, confidential, and friendly service that offers support to anyone living in Jersey who wants to stop smoking.
Once contact has been made with the service, you’ll meet a Stop Smoking Specialist Nurse who will tell you more about the programme, which consists of an initial assessment appointment followed by weekly support sessions.
Islanders are also provided with a free supply of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) for those who attend the support sessions.
Dr Rhona Reardon, Help2Quit Lead Nurse Specialist, said: “Smokers, and others may think smoking is a lifestyle choice or just a habit, but it is not. It is an addiction, with many smokers becoming dependent on tobacco in childhood.”
Keiran has now attended two sessions and has been smoke-free since the new year began. A victory that has been accomplished through both his own determination, and the support provided by the Stop Smoking Specialist Nurses.
He said: “My first appointment was with an ex-smoker, which was actually really inspiring, because it wasn’t like I was talking to someone who hadn’t been through what I was going through, before.”
After just five days of no smoking from time of interview, Keiran explained that he had already seen encouraging signs.
“During my first session, my CO2 reading was 12, which was quite high, so I was in the red, but my last session was yesterday, and my CO2 reading had dropped to four.”
Keiran admits that Help2Quit has exceeded his expectations of what the service could provide him, and reiterated how important accountability is when you’re trying to stop something for good.
“I thought it was just going to be one appointment then a follow-up appointment and that’s you done. But they have continuous appointments with you, which really helps you to keep that accountability.
“You know you’re going to have another session, and you know you’re going to have to be honest about how you’re doing, and that’s helped me a lot,” he said.
The catalyst for Keiran’s addiction over the past 10 years has mostly been down to social pressures, difficult relationships, and financial hardships. The latter of which, he recognises an irony, but all of which, we can resonate with to some degree.
“At one point in my life, I was stressing that my finances weren’t in a good place,” he thought to himself, “I’m smoking so that I feel less stressed about my finances for a moment, and then when I’ve run out of cigarettes, I’m going to be more stressed than I was in the first place.”
It’s this repetitive cycle and the ruminating thoughts that come with it that is often synonymous with addiction, and what makes quitting so hard.
Outside of work, Keiran is a singer, and, impressively, has supported acts like London Grammar.
From the age of seven, Keiran started taking part in amateur production shows, later attending the Brighton Institute of Modern Music before returning home to Jersey.
He realises that smoking has no place in his life anymore, especially when it comes to pursuing his music.
“I need to be able to last-minute get on stage and just perform, vocally, and smoking just doesn’t fit into that.”
For more information on how you can quit smoking, visit the Help2Quit service, here.