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Great Blakenham: PPG employee Bernie Walsh celebrates giving up cigarettes a year on

PUBLISHED: 12:08 14 March 2014 | UPDATED: 12:08 14 March 2014

Bernie Walsh, 50, is a production manager at PPG and quit smoking a year ago when LiveWelll Suffolk came to the plant

Bernie Walsh, 50, is a production manager at PPG and quit smoking a year ago when LiveWelll Suffolk came to the plant

He smoked 100 cigarettes a week and had tried countless times to give up but when his employer brought in health experts into the workplace something changed.

Bernie Walsh, 50, from Great Blakenham, managed to stop smoking when his daughter Gemma was born in 1991 after starting as a teenager in the 1970s.

But since he lit up again two years later he struggled to beat the habit.

Last year his bosses at Stowmarket-based paint and coatings company PPG Industries UK Ltd got staff from the team at Live Well Suffolk to run a smokers’ support group.

The group started to coincide with national No Smoking Day. This year’s day was held on Wednesday.

Mr Walsh said: “I was not intending to give up, I had tried in the past but it did not work. I went to the first group session and it helped – there was 20 of us and we had the support of Live Well Suffolk as well.

“They had the tablet, Champix, which they said would work.”

The drug acts on receptors in the brain by reliving cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with giving up nicotine.

“I told my daughter I had been to the sessions and stopped smoking but she did not believe me because I had tried so many times before”, Mr Walsh said. “I can’t see myself smoking ever again as I’ve noticed a big difference in my health and also the health of my finances. When I quit I started saving the money that I would normally spend on cigarettes, after six months I had £900.”

“I was shocked to see how much money I’d been spending on smoking.”

Mr Walsh, who works as a production manager, took up smoking around two years after his daughter was born.

Despite trying to give up since the mid 1990s he only ever managed to kick the habit for up to a month.

Live Well Suffolk, which is funded by NHS Suffolk, said that three people die from smoking-related causes every day in the county.

According to statistics, almost 20% of people smoke in Suffolk.

For more information on free stop smoking sessions call 01473 229292 or go to www.livewellsuffolk.org.uk

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