It took a heart attack to get David to quit

Ex-smoker says one puff on a cigarette is akin to an alcoholic having a drink.

When smoker David Wigmore underwent a heart by-pass operation, he never thought he would light up again.

But, within a year of the surgery, he was back to square one and puffing on up to 25 cigarettes a day.

It took another nine years and a mild heart attack for him to kick the habit for good.

The 77-year-old from Honiton has now been smoke free for 18 years and says he could kick himself for not quitting sooner.

As New Year resolutions start to wane, Mr Wigmore has some timely advice for smokers who are desperately trying to kick the habit: “You have to persist.

“It is easy for anyone to backslide and light up, but don’t fall into the trap of telling yourself you’ll try giving up again in a week’s time.

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“Stop straight away, because you may not stop again.”

Mr Wigmore, who last year swam three kilometres for charity, says he started smoking as a teenager.

“I did it as a lad, messing around,” he said. “I was about 13.

“By the time I had my by-pass surgery in 1983, I was smoking 20 to 25-a-day.

“I gave up smoking after the operation but, in 1984, just a year later, I wanted to find out what it was that I saw in cigarettes and tried one.

“That one puff got me back on them and it took me nearly another 10 years to give up.

“I had a mild heart attack in 1993 and I’ve never smoked since.”

Mr Wigmore says: “I was angry with myself, annoyed - for not giving up sooner. I still am angry with myself.

“Now I regard smoking in the same way as alcoholism - one cigarette is the same as a drink to an alcoholic.”

Pop diva Rihanna is one of the millions worldwide who have decided to quit smoking in 2012.

Like the singer, many are stubbing out for health reasons. But, as the economic downturn continues, just as many will be quitting because they simply cannot afford to smoke.

For Mr Wigmore, it was all about saving his life. He doubts he would be alive today if he didn’t quit when he did.

“I felt healthier after I packed it up,” he said.

“It was nothing so magical that I could suddenly run marathons; it was a slow build up.”

Following his sponsored swim last year, Mr Wigmore raised �440 for the local welfare branch of the Royal British Legion.

He says finding a “displacement activity” is key to staying off the fags.

“You need to find something else to do; it’s really important,” he said.

Find out more about the benefits of giving up smoking and get support by visiting or call 0800 0224332 to speak to an NHS Smoke Free adviser.