AFTER almost half a century of puffing away, Mick Howard is determined to kick the habit to mark today’s No Smoking Day.

The 62-year-old recycling centre manager has been smoking since he was 14.

After trying everything from gum to patches, he hopes the nicotine hit from a battery-powered e-cigarette will banish his 48-year-old habit for good.

Father of one Mr Howard – site manager at Oakley Wood near Wallingford – has tried throwing the fags away, a nictonie patch and has even tried hypnosis, but that was too expensive.

He is trying e-cigarettes in his bid to beat his 100 Pall Mall, £30-a-week, habit.

Mr Howard, from Rose Hill, said: “The biggest problem people have packing up is other people smoking around them.

“You have it just about everywhere you go. There is a smoking area at work and once we pack it up we will have to avoid that like the plague.”

He added: “It is more the cost more than anything. It is ridiculous.”

Laura Wardak is manager for the Oxfordshire NHS Stop Smoking service, which gives advice and nicotine replacement therapy like patches and gums.

Since 2000, about 70,000 county residents have sought help through places like GP practices and pharmacists.

She said about 6,000 people a year contact the service with about 3,500 kicking the habit, although some will later relapse.

Latest figures, for April to September, show 2,893 people set a quit date and of those 1,694 gave up.

Mrs Wardak said: “The service has had a massive impact, not only on the people who are giving up smoking but also on the lives of their family members.”

Teaching people “coping strategies” on how to manage cravings is key, along with the products, she said.

Chief Medical Officer Prof Dame Sally Davies said that e-cigarettes can stop people smoking but a current lack of regulation, which is set to be changed in 2016, means at the moment “they cannot be recommended for use”.

About 15 per cent of Oxfordshire residents smoke, compared to the national average of 19 per cent.

Contact the service on 0845 4080300 or visit

For more information on No Smoking Day, visit