Ex-smokers kick the habit for the sake of health and family
Mr Murugan Balamurali, a consultant at a destination management company who smoked about 20 sticks a day, had just returned from lunch when he felt a hot flush and started perspiring.
His heart was racing and he felt faint. He told colleagues to take him to hospital.
It turned out to be heart palpitations, but that episode two years ago was enough to make him quit smoking.
Today is World No Tobacco Day and The New Paper spoke to health professionals and ex-smokers about the dangers of smoking and how some people quit the habit.
Now 39 and smoke-free, Mr Murali - who had smoked for 20 years - had thought he was having a heart attack then.
"I thought I was going to die. Many things flashed through my mind during that hour or so. I started thinking a lot about my children, my family," he said.
Personal motivation and social support are critical factors in helping a smoker quit, said Start to S.T.O.P. (Speak To Our Pharmacists) programme lead Grace Chew.
She said: "Quitting smoking requires a strong will.
"Because (smokers) have different reasons for smoking, we also have to tackle the issues and pain points differently."
Launched in 2017, Start to S.T.O.P. is a standardised six-week smoking cessation programme championed by the Pharmaceutical Society of Singapore's Community Chapter. It is a nationwide collaborative effort by pharmacy chains Guardian, Unity and Watsons.
Mr Azmi Abdul Rahim, 36, who works in security, picked up smoking at 15. He smoked 20 to 30 sticks a day.
He tried to quit in 2014 after he got married but failed.
He tried again in 2016 by signing up for the Health Promotion Board's (HPB) I Quit programme. He caved two weeks in.
It was not until July last year that Mr Azmi found the motivation to quit the habit.
He was worried about the health of his family, especially his then two-year-old daughter, and registered for the I Quit programme again. He has not touched a cigarette since.
Mr Murali also registered for the I Quit programme and was supported by his family, close friends and colleagues.
He said: "I told myself if I can give up smoking, I can do anything." - KOK YUFENG