When it comes to quitting the dreaded weed there are any number of tried and tested methods. Some recommend patches, others claim chewing gum holds the key while die-hard cigarette-heads might even subject themselves to a spell of hypnosis to cut free from the nicotine bonds. But retired merchant banker Geoff Spice has hit on an altogether more radical solution to his addiction – banishment to a deserted Hebridean island.
Yesterday the former senior director at NM Rothschild & Sons will land on 40-acre Sgarabhaigh where apart from the sound of the relentless Atlantic wind, the occasional sheep, the midges and the regular screech of the cormorants which give the isle its Gaelic name, he will be left alone in peace for four weeks to contemplate a future without tobacco.
Mr Spice, 56, who has been puffing away since taking up the habit 43 years ago, admitted he was slightly anxious at the prospect of a month of smoke-free solitude but was determined to stick it out. His previous record with a smoke is nine days before succumbing to the cravings.
He said: "I'm going to have one last cigarette and give the rest of the packet to my wife and get on the boat to the island. This is my last chance. I've been smoking 30-a-day as usual but I think I can crack the habit. I also hope that living on the island and surviving by myself will mean that I will not pile on the pounds as other people do when they give-up."
The former director of the blue-blooded merchant bank began his smoking career at the age of 13 while working as a paper boy at his local shop. "I pinched a packet of cigarettes one day in the hope that I could sell them at school but I couldn't so I tried them myself," he recalled.
Previous efforts to quit have failed including a planned retreat to a similarly deserted Australian island while working Down Under 10 years ago though he gave up on the idea because he was worried about being bitten by a snake.
"I don't think it will be too difficult to spend a month on the island. I can be happy with my own company as well as the company of others. I will miss my wife Elena, my children and my family very much but I understand that my mobile phone will work on the island so we can speak that way and I'm hoping that my plan will work, I'll stop smoking and my month on the island may lead to many years of extra life that I'll be able to spend with them," he added.
Except for a few tumbledown bothies, Sgarabhaigh has no electricity or water supply. It was once used as a source of peat by neighbouring islanders. The former banker will rely on driftwood to make a camp fire and bottled water for drinking. He plans to while away the time learning the guitar and reading books on his iPod which is powered by a photo voltaic cell.
Island owner Dave Hill has arranged for Mr Spice to be dropped-off on Sgarabhaigh and picked-up a month later. "If he rings to say he cannot stand it without a cigarette we will ignore it until it gets to three calls. He must have time to reflect on his decision," said Mr Hill.Reuse content