Jessie, a Ngarrindjeri/Adnyamathanha Elder, 61 of Parafield Gardens said she didn’t realise how much smoking had affected her breathing until she tried to walk to the shops one day.
“It was only a 10 minute walk. I was out of breath and it was only half way. I thought gee, I didn’t realise how unfit I was,” Jessie said.
“So I took up walking – morning and night. It worked out to be 10 km a day and I lost more than 20 kg.”
A mother of two and grandmother of four, Jessie said she was a never a heavy smoker, but enjoyed having a smoke and a yarn with her sisters.
“Smoking helped me to relax. I never craved cigarettes. I did it because I enjoyed it,” she said.
“But when they hit $5 a packet I refused to pay that much for cigarettes and I decided to give it away.”
Jessie says she remembers the first time she started smoking at 14 years of age after her friend coaxed her into trying one.
“It was a teenage thing – to get together and have a smoke. But my mum found out and slapped me in the face and told me to get a job it I wanted to smoke,” she said.
In 2002, a tragic house fire took the life of Jessie’s husband and mother. Despite the grief, Jessie said she didn’t go back to smoking.
“It was a tough time, I could have easily started up smoking again, but I thought there is no point going backwards,” she said.