Whether you want to start breathing easier, feel the energy boost or even have a little more money to spend, there has never been a better time to stop smoking. Remember, it’s never too late to join the thousands of people quitting smoking this October.

Seventy-five-year-old John McCool is well on the way to achieving four months off cigarettes after a serious health scare when he spent just over two weeks in Barnsley Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.

John, whose wife Pat McCool runs The Darley pub in Worsbrough with their son Richard, was admitted to hospital after seeing his GP when his weight plummeted from 11 stones to just eight stones. He said: “I do suffer from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) but have always controlled it. But then I lost my appetite and the weight was just falling off me. I could hardly walk. I had no idea what was wrong and ended up in hospital.”

John underwent treatment and gave up the cigarettes when he was in hospital in June although he was unsure if he wanted to stay off them when he came out. His doctors said it was ‘fantastic’ that he had decided to remain a non-smoker and had made the efforts to do so. He was supported by the hospital’s QUIT smoking programme and uses nicotine patches which he says are very helpful.

A father-of-three, grandad and great grandad, John said: “I’ve smoked since the age of ten which people did in those days and I could smoke as many as 60 a day. I was a plasterer by trade and always worked hard until I retired at 60 through ill-health. Even now, I can’t say in all honesty that I don’t fancy a cigarette – sometimes I could murder one – but I stay off them. Cigs are expensive but it’s not about saving money, it’s about my health.”

Now John’s appetite is back and he’s enjoying his favourite hearty stews again. “My slow cooker was never off before and now I’m back to that. Although I’m eating normally, I haven’t developed a belly – I’ve got a six-pack now! The hospital looked after me fantastic. I’m still using the nicotine patches and I’d also like to try an inhalator to keep off any cravings.”

His wife Pat, 75, has 47 years’ experience of running pubs and has helped raise thousands of pounds at The Darley for charitable causes. In 2020, Star Pubs & Bars presented Pat and son Richard with a prestigious long service award. Pat said she was really proud of John for quitting smoking. “He does get cravings but has a piece of chocolate or fruit instead,” she added.