A CITY politician is joining thousands of other Wearsiders in trying to kick his smoking habit as part of a mass quit attempt.
As part of Stoptober, which starts on Tuesday, people are being encouraged by health bosses to have a go at binning cigarettes for one month.
Councillor John Kelly, 51, portfolio holder for public health at Sunderland City Council, today says he will join in with those trying to stub out the health hazard.
Coun Kelly has been a smoker for nearly 37 years, but says now is the time to pack in once and for all.
The councillor, who represents Washington North ward, said: “I’ve been a smoker on and off since I was a teenager, but taking over responsibility for public health at Sunderland City Council a few months ago has motivated me to lead by example.
“Like a lot of other smokers, I have had a few gos at stopping smoking over the years.
“Peer pressure led me to take up smoking in my early teens at school – everyone else was doing it – and I started on maybe two or three cigarettes a day.
“I went to work on building sites and it increased to around 10 a day, then increased a bit more – I didn’t really notice I was smoking more, probably because it became part of my social life.
“I’d go to the pub with friends and we’d all be getting our cigarettes out and flashing them around – probably smoking as many cigarettes in a couple of hours as we’d normally have in a full day.
Coun Kelly added that previous quit attempts have failed.
“My first try at stopping smoking was in my late 20s when my two sons John and Ryan were born,” he said.
“I was the only smoker in our family and, admittedly it was mostly for financial reasons, but I didn’t want to smoke in front of them either.
“I was never too concerned for my own health, but I used to tell them that if I ever caught them smoking, I would make them eat the cigarette.
“I’d then go outside for a quick cigarette.
“It was hypocritical, but I wanted to protect my children and neither of them smoked, which I am thankful for.
“I did manage to quit for three months at that stage.”
Ailsa Rutter, director of anti-smoking group Fresh, said: “We’re wishing Councillor Kelly good luck for his quit attempt and encouraging anyone who smokes in Sunderland to join in with Stoptober and give quitting a go.
“Last year’s campaign was a massive success and this year it could be even bigger.”