For years Michael didn’t give much thought to how smoking was impacting his health, even following his COPD diagnosis in 2009. However, after being rushed to hospital in 2015 and nearly dying twice, he has woken up to the realities of the dangers associated with smoking.
He said: “I started on cigarettes then moved onto hand rolling tobacco. If I knew then what I do now I never would have smoked in my life.
“I knew about bronchitis, but I’d never heard of COPD before. I was not bothered at all about smoking or what it was doing to me, until I got bad – then I was terrified.
“I basically died twice in hospital last year. Twice in the space of a week I was gone.
“I collapsed at home and when the ambulance came I begged the paramedics to let me die. I was asthmatic as a child and I’ve had my fair share of asthma attacks. They are nothing compared to this. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t even catch a breath. It was like I was suffocating.
“When I got out of the hospital I said that was it. I was never going to have a cigarette again.
“No one should go through what I went through. People don’t realise what it’s like until it happens to them. I took pictures of myself in the hospital. I’m five-foot-eight and I weighed just seven stone. I still look at the photos sometimes to remind myself how far I’ve come. I’ve showed them people in my family who smoke. My sister is now trying to quit.”