My Name is Carol. I was a smoker for over 35 years. I smoked all my life until recently when I got lip cancer. Cigarettes were such a big part of me. I couldn't imagine life without them. But you come to a crossroad and you know you gotta change.
I got a sore on my lip. I had never had a cold sore and it went on for quite some time. It was right where the cigarette had always been. When I was diagnosed with the cancer, I was a bit angry but I only had myself to blame. I had smoked all those years and thought cigarettes were a part of me and that they were my friend. Then I realized they had turned on me and I was going to have to turn on them and I didn’t even know how to do that.
I had to close my business due to the bad economy and I haven’t had health insurance since and it puts you in a bad situation but it doesn't make you less needy. I still needed to quit smoking. I didn't do very well on my own. I was trying but then my doctor referred me to the Tritown program to stop smoking. They educated us on how to use the patches and incorporate the gum and the lozenges and I had all this support. Having that made a huge difference. I’m just really grateful that due to the program I was able to get that help.
I guess "free" is a good way to express how I feel today as a nonsmoker. I'm so free today. You don't realize how much the cigarettes control you. I didn't want to give it up but today, I'm happy I have. It was so worth it. It's such a sense of accomplishment and it's probably one of the best things I have ever done in my life. Don't give the tobacco companies your time, your money…your life.
Carol - a Cancer Survivor
My husband knew his days on earth were numbered. Thirty years of smoking left his heart diseased and failing him. He said "I just want my son to remember me." Hayden was only two years old when he passed away.
Hayden may not remember his dad beyond what he has seen in home movies and photographs, but he is very aware that he is missing something very special – something the other kids in his preschool have. He holds a photo of his daddy with him during circle time so he can feel like the others. On more than one occasion he has said, "Mommy, can you find me a new daddy who doesn’t smoke cigarettes?"
The weight of the loss we both feel is immeasurable.
Erica - a Widow
I smoked from the time I was 16 up to, I'd say about 40 years. I decided to quit because, basically, I have emphysema. All those years of smoking probably took 15 or 20 years off my life; I will probably die before I'm 70. My father is 84, so there's the difference.
I've been smoke free for over two years. I ran into a program on the web called, I think it's now called "Become an Ex", and it's free. You can't just throw away your cigarettes. People think it's going to be easy, just throw away your cigarettes and stop. Support is important for making a good quit. Not only people support but also your nicotine replacement therapy if you choose to use that.
The preparation with that program was very, very good and allowed me to succeed. Basically the thing I learned from that, that I never learned before, is that the way out of it – out of an urge – is to distract yourself. What you do is you switch to anything else, you could turn the TV on, you could run around the block, you could do anything. You just don’t sit there and let the urge overwhelm you. If you do that, you're a dead duck.
I feel great about what I did, quitting smoking was the best thing I ever did. I can breathe an awful lot better. The price of cigarettes was going up and up and up and I found out I had, like, twice as much money when I quit.
Joe - a Quitter
When I started smoking cigarettes were less than two dollars a pack. Now they are more than eight dollars. Wow…all those years I worked hard and a lot of my money went to cigarettes. What do you get out of it? Bad health and you stink.
After 26 years, I went to the doctor and he said “quit, quit.” I definitely thank my doctor for that. It’s a very hard thing to quit. You have to want to.
If I just wanted to do it at home, I probably wouldn’t have done it. Going to the counseling sessions helped. One guy could hardly breathe. When you see what happens to people…I though, I don’t want to end up like them. As long as you go to all the classes and use your patches and do what the counselor says – you get the most out of it.
I think it’s the best thing ever.
David - a Quitter
I started when I was 17. I had a friend who was a social smoker and I don’t know why but I decided to try it and got hooked right away. I smoked for 15 years and made numerous quit attempts but the longest I would quit was maybe two days.
There were definitely a lot of things sacrificed so I could keep smoking. I could have bought a home sooner and had less debt. I spent a lot of money. If I didn’t have money I would charge cigarettes before I would food. I had a ferret die from lung cancer because I was smoking in the house. It was never enough. It wasn’t until something happened to me that I said “that’s it.”
When I got hired at my job – for the employment physical my blood pressure was 170/110. The nurse said “you need to get this checked. You are kind of in the heart attack range.” I said, “that can’t be. I’m only 30.” That was what did it for me.
Quitting has enhanced my life. It will be five years September 3’rd. I feel a lot better physically. Now I’m a substance abuse and smoking cessation counselor. Going through the process myself has allowed me to help other people struggling with addictions.
Matt - a Quitter and Cessation Counselor
I have COPD and Asthma, all thanks from smoking. I started smoking when I was 16 years old, up until 30 years ago, and my oxygen tank is the result of it. I’ve tried to quit 11 times. I used to quit during Lent but always went right back. Then I decided on my own, this is it, no more cigarettes. I did it cold turkey, no patch or anything. When I finally decided, I didn’t tell anybody that I quit. I was off cigarettes for a couple of months before anyone really noticed.
Cigarettes make me feel relaxed. If I was uptight or anything, I would have a smoke. I wouldn’t pick up the phone unless I had a cigarette in my hand. It was a relaxing thing.
Smoking took my health. I have problems in the morning, I’m very slow to move around. When I do, I can go out but it takes me hours to get ready. If I didn’t smoke, I would be a whole lot more active. I used to be very active. I had to get out every day. But now, I can’t go out until somebody can take me.
I have to take my oxygen tank with me everywhere I go for the rest of my life. I’m tethered to it. It’s not fun.
If I can tell anybody, if you’re smoking, give it up. Give it up before it’s too late. If you can give it up, do so now before it is worst. Believe me, you will get like me if you don’t quit now.
Theresa - Oxygen Dependent
I smoked for 30 years and my biggest motivation to quit was for health reasons. There were lots of reasons why I wanted to quit – there were more reasons to quit than there were to keep smoking. I’m a Diabetic and there were lots of people – my doctor, everyone – that told me I should quit. I knew it was a bad thing to do for a good many years. Finally, I just came into the smokers’ cessation program and I went with it. It had helped and I’m still at it. It’s a hard thing to do. A main reason why I quit was because I couldn’t breathe right. That’s what cigarettes did to me. I think it was a pick-up game of basketball with my son and I couldn’t make it more than three minutes and I was out of breath and blaming it on age.
I started smoking when I was a teenager. My parents smoked – my mother and step-father. I remember taking a pack of his Marlborough Reds; I was always a Marlborough Red smoker from then on. I remember going into the woods with my friends and thinking we were cool and all of that. I’ve been a smoker since then. It’s amazing how cigarettes got me to be a pack-a-day smoker for so many years. You could time it almost – the same store, the same time of day. I would have my last cigarette and be ready to go to that store. It’s just amazing how I needed that nicotine for that much, every half hour or every hour I would need that cigarette and would come out to be that same pack a day for 20 years. Tobacco made me a slave. It’s amazing that I’m away from that right now. I don’t miss it.
I needed cigarettes, it was my crutch for all my emotions. If I was upset or angry, a nice cigarette would calm me down. Now, I’ve got my emotions a little bit in check. I work on that a lot and I don’t need a cigarette to calm me down. I can take a walk, deep breaths, and meditation a little bit. Six months ago I couldn’t pick up a basketball for two minutes and now I can go an hour. It’s amazing, I didn’t realize how much cigarettes had me and I’m amazed now that I’m away from it. Smoking doesn’t control me like the way it did. They said a pack a day, every day, no matter what, for every emotion, for every break, getting in the car, after eating, all of this, my life was surrounded by a cigarette. Today it’s not like that.”
Chris - a Quitter
I smoked for about 12 years. I began smoking when I was in college as a social smoker. It was that time when the party scene was going on, that time when I started exploring alcohol, and cigarettes came hand-in-hand. My friends were doing it so I would occasionally have a cigarette. I always thought Oh, I can quit because I’m a social cigarette smoker. Unfortunately, it stuck. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, it did. Smoking became my friend; it became a comfort for me.
Eventually it became uncool to smoke. My friends began to stop as they got older, and conceptually you begin to realize your own mortality. As I got older, and became more mature, I tried to stop. From the pressure of friends not wanting to smell me smelling like smoke, to the stares you would get, to how the other social pressures mounted, you would get how really uncool it is and make a conscious effort to stop smoking.
I started with not smoking at work. Then I introduced going to the gym. I needed another outlet to help me stop smoking. But at first, I couldn’t run. I couldn’t do aerobics. I couldn’t do the treadmill. I couldn’t do the classes I was really starting to enjoy. I couldn’t do any of those things with my chest full of smoke. I couldn’t do those things because I didn’t have the lung capacity. Little by little, I started to realize what my capacity was to function at the gym without cigarettes.
Quitting smoking was a gradual thing for me that happened over the course of a few years. It was difficult. I admit to being an ex-smoker and am one of the harshest critics of smokers because it is really difficult to smell it now, and be okay with it. I’m a strong, strong advocate for people to stop smoking. Smoking is just an ugly thing.
I feel great now. I feel much healthier, I can breathe, I can smell and taste food. For me, it’s like coming out of a dark, smoked-filled room that is hot, and your needing air, and you go outside and you have this burst of fresh air. I can’t imagine ever going back to smoking at this point. Being aware of the health consequences of it - the overall effects on your skin, your teeth–being able to breathe easier, having an 18-month daughter now and I need to be active for her and keep up with her - I can’t imagine it. Smoking is not my friend anymore. I just feel much more full of life. I’m experiencing life without the foggy glaze.
Tracie - a Quitter