Imagine giving something up overnight that you’ve done 20 times a day for 20 odd years.

Doesn’t sound that easy does it? Well, that’s exactly what Carol Hardingham did when she cut out the fags for this year’s 28-day Stoptober challenge.

The 56-year-old, who lives in Oaks Cross in Stevenage, smoked 20 cigarettes a day until recently cutting down to less than 10. She start smoking when she was 17 and had tried on several occasions to kick the habit.

Five years ago she managed to stay smoke free for nine months, but then started lighting up again.

But after seeing the Stoptober stall manned by health professionals in Stevenage town centre, Carol decided it was time to have another go at kicking the habit for the sake of her health and bank balance.

As she celebrated completing one month without a cigarette – which experts say makes it much more likely she can now continue to say no to tobacco, she said: “I was out in the town centre with my mum and saw the Stoptober stall so I decided to sign up.

“I’d seen the ads on TV and I thought to myself that I should be getting involved.

“Smoking is becoming more and more unsociable and expensive and my husband and kids didn’t like me doing it.

“During the challenge I have been going to the stop smoking clinic which has been great.

“The first week was the hardest and there were a couple of days when I felt like pulling my hair out, but I’d quit for a reason so I stuck at it and I am really glad I did.

“It’s still pretty early stages, and I have certainly had my ups and downs, but I feel positive about being able to stop for good.

“The people at the clinic have been marvellous. Knowing that they are at the end of the phone if you need them is a massive thing.

“I also wanted to quit for good for them because I felt like I didn’t want to let them down.

“Smoking is just a bad habit and I don’t want to ever start again.”

Thousands of people across the country took part in the NHS funded campaign this year. It tries to help people stop smoking by using aids like nicotine patches and by holding meetings with other smokers trying to quit.

Councillor Teresa Heritage, who is responsible for health at Herts County Council, said: “Congratulations to everyone who took part in Stoptober, it’s great that so many people got involved.

“Remember that unlike Stoptober, our stop smoking service is not just for October, they are available all year round.

“Research shows that with their support you are four times more likely to make a successful quit attempt.

“Whenever you are ready to think about quitting, we’ll be here for you too.”

For more visit