This Time, I've Quit for Good; HOW LASER THERAPY HELPED PAUL TO BEAT THE WEED
Byline: Lisa Adams
IT'S a battle even Barack Obama dreams of one day winning. After all, he made it to the White House as the first black president and scooped the Nobel Peace prize.
But so far, he's failed to quit smoking.
Pressure is on to kick the habit ahead of No Smoking Day on Wednesday, and the frightening statistics speak for themselves.
Hundreds die every year from smoking-related illnesses, making it one of Scotland's biggest killers.
So what does it really take to stub out that last cigarette and look forward to a bright, smoke-free future? We challenged lifelong smoker Paul Livingstone, 43, to quit. After decades of addiction, the dad-of-three admits he'd tried everything from nicotine patches to self-help books to kick his 30-a-day habit.
Furious that five-a-side football was leaving him out of breath, salesman Paul signed up for laser therapy sessions and counselling at the Anne Penman clinic.
Now, 18 days on, he's still smoke-free and can't stop smiling. Here, he reveals his lifelong fight with cigarettes and why this time he's stubbed them out for good.
Salesman Paul started smoking when he was 15 and spends more than pounds 50 a week on cigarettes.
He lives in Coatbridge with his wife Mary Jo, 43, and his children, Monica, 12, Dominic, nine, and Marie Clare, eight.
Paul says: "I went out on Saturday night for the first time in almost 30 years and didn't smoke. It was a brilliant feeling.
"I can taste and smell again. Breathing clearly is fantastic. Friends say my skin is fresher and my eyes are brighter. My wife, who has been on at me for years to stop smoking, can't believe it.
"It's never felt easy to stop smoking before. In the past when I've tried to stop, cigarettes were on my mind constantly. It felt like torture.
"I'm in the car a lot, driving to see clients and always worried about stinking of smoke. Smoking became a bind.
"I'd tried everything to stop - patches, micro tabs, inhalers, nasal sprays. You name it, I'd tried it.
"At every milestone, I'd kid myself I was going to stop. When my daughter Monica was born, I promised I'd stop. That slipped by and I decided I'd stop after my second kid was born.
"When I hit my 40th birthday, I was again determined to stop, but didn't. I was smoking up to 30 cigarettes a day and at the weekend, a whole lot more. …