Gordon “Nobby” Clark, who was the original frontman of the celebrated Scottish band, said he finally kicked the habit last year after attending a local support group.
The 67-year-old, who had smoked since his 20s, decided to speak out about his experience with the hope of persuading others who find it hard to quit to follow in his footsteps.
Long-term smokers who want to stop are being urged to take advantage of free NHS support to help get them through the first 72 hours when nicotine cravings are at their most difficult to resist.
Quit Your Way Scotland provides people who are thinking about stopping smoking with individually tailored advice, either over the phone or online.
A survey of more than 400 smokers published today found almost three quarters have attempted to quit in the past, with around one in five currently trying to do so.
The vast majority (75 per cent) also agreed that the first 72 hours after giving up smoking were the hardest. Many suggested “mental cravings” could be harder to overcome than physical ones.
Clark sang on all the Bay City Rollers’ early hits, including Keep On Dancing, We Can Make Music and Manana, but left the band in 1974 just before Rollermania took off.
“I’d tried to quit several times with varying levels of success, probably because I wasn’t in the right frame of mind,” he said. “Last year I knew I really wanted to make a change and went along to a local support group.
“I used a combination of nicotine patches and chewing gum and gradually reduced the size of the patches to slowly wean myself off, using gum as an emergency back-up. By the end of the 12 weeks, I’d managed to quit altogether.
“For me, the hardest habit to break was having a cigarette first thing with a cuppa. I found the support of the group really helpful.
“There’s a good sense of community and you meet people from all walks of life who are having the same experiences which makes it a bit easier. I still go along to get advice and offer support to others, even though I’ve completely stopped.
“I’ve noticed a huge difference in my health. I used to be on two inhalers a day which I’ve done away with and I haven’t had any chest infections. My vocal range has also totally changed. Life free from nicotine feels great.”
Sheila Duffy, chief executive of the health charity ASH Scotland, said it was important that people who wanted to give up smoking made the choice themselves.
“Some smokers just stop, and find it easier than they thought,” she added. “For others it can take a number of tries to find out what works best. Each time you try, you will learn something about yourself.
“There’s no one way that works for everyone, but quitting smoking is well worth it however many attempts it takes to succeed. It’s the best thing you can do for your own health and for those you love.”