November is Great American Smokeout Month. Read why some of your co-workers kicked the habit, and the rewards they’ve reaped as a result!
Deb Anderson, dietetic technician, Nutrition Services, knew the time had come to quit when she was in the middle of New York City and couldn’t find a place to smoke. She was one of the only people among her family and friends who still smoked and found the isolation overwhelming. She contacted Tobacco Consultation Service and mapped out a plan to quit gradually, since “quitting cold turkey is like asking a person to go on a 500-calorie diet and stick with it.”
Through a combination of nicotine replacement therapy, medication and counseling, Anderson has been smoke free for a year. Since her hobby is investing, she takes the extra money she saves on cigarettes and buys stocks and CDs. She also finds exercise to be an important part of her quitting process and now regularly bikes and plays golf to stay active.
“80 percent of my temptation to smoke was behavioral, not the physical craving to smoke,” Anderson says. “You have to curb the patterns. Exercise has helped me a lot.”
Terrie Fanelli, authorization specialist, Michigan Visiting Nurses, has a long family history of cardiac disease so her primary care physician prompted her to contact TCS about quitting smoking. She was ready to fight cravings on her quit date last August, armed with extra books and her knitting needles. She is happy to be an ex-smoker, but she credits her two sons for giving her the motivation to stick with it.
“I got a beautiful flower arrangement from my sons to congratulate me for quitting and to say how proud they are of me,” she says. “It is the one thing that has kept me from smoking again.”
Fanelli rewarded herself by spending some of her smoke-free dollars on a leather tote bag from the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market. “I used to admire these purses but never felt like I could afford one. I finally ordered one and I just love it.” Fanelli also increased the amount automatically deposited into her savings account.
Being an ex-smoker is a marvelous thing for Fanelli, who no longer worries about finding smoking sections or smelling like stale cigarettes. She also continues to receive encouraging cards and words from people at work.
When Vanessa Clinton, patient services assistant, Briarwood Radiology, learned her mother was told to stop smoking for health reasons, she knew she had to quit, too. “There was no way my mom could quit smoking if I was in the house smoking,” she says. So, they quit together last summer.
Clinton kicked her crocheting habit into high gear to replace her smoking habit. She spent her extra money on yarn and has many projects in the works, including a Harry Potter scarf she’ll give to a lucky nephew.
“I always viewed quitting as a punishment, but now I view it as an addiction that I am recovering from,” she says.
She treated herself to a new collection of scented candles and teas, two things she loves.
“I found ways to pamper myself to turn quitting into something positive instead of something negative.”
Clinton credits TCS for giving her the tools she needed to quit successfully. She heard about the program at UMHS orientation and was happy to learn she was eligible to participate as a temporary employee. Having a one-on-one counselor gave her a sense of accountability to not let her quit date slip.
Victor Hola, R.N., Cancer Center, really enjoyed smoking. He liked it so much he claims he’d pay $1,000 for a pack. The cost of smoking wasn’t an issue, but a frank discussion with his physician opened him up to the idea of quitting for health reasons. That was more than seven years ago.
“What worked for me was to start exercising,” Hola says. “That took some of the attention off the cigarette and onto my body. I constantly carried around a bottle of water. I admitted it would be nice to have a cigarette, but I’m not going to have one NOW.”
Hola participated in a group program to quit and appreciated that people at TCS didn’t lecture him or make him feel “stupid for being a smoker.” Instead, they gave him the tools that helped him let the urge to when he wanted to smoke. It also helped that Hola quit with his partner. They cleaned the entire house, removed all the ashtrays and threw out all the cigarettes. Despite having occasional cravings, he says not smoking is definitely better than smoking – no matter how much he enjoyed his former habit.
Michelle Kaikkonen, assistant billing manager, Anesthesiology Professional Fee Billing, smoked for 14 years and was concerned about her health. As she sat in her physician’s office for an annual checkup, she noticed a TCS flyer on the wall. A program was offered right in the building where she worked, making it an easy decision to sign up. Setting a good example for her three children gave her the motivation to stick with it.
“What was really helpful for me was to understand how any addiction affects your brain,” Kaikkonen says. “I realized I had to get over the addiction and that it would be an ongoing process.”
Kaikkonen saves about $7.50 per day by not smoking and now has two hours to spend doing other things. She has joined several MFit classes, takes walks and does exercise DVDs at home after dinner.
“I love being an ex-smoker,” she says. “It takes so much of your time to think about how you’re going to smoke with your non-smoking friends. I don’t have to worry about that anymore.”
Brenda Franklin, Microbiology staff specialist, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, was a self-described die hard smoker, smoking two packs a day when she and her husband decided to quit in 1999. She was a new mother, breastfeeding her baby, and knew she had to break the addiction – especially since she wanted to have another child.
“I had to quit if I was going to be a mom and I had to quit if I was going to have a second baby. I didn’t want to raise future smokers who would have to suffer through the addiction like I did,” she says.
Franklin believes, as an older mom, that it is her responsibility to stay as healthy as possible so she is there to support her children. After eighteen grueling months of withdrawal and cravings, she finally realized she could break her smoking habit forever. She also joined Weight Watchers at work and started running with a co-worker every other morning before work. She treated herself to tanning sessions as a reward.
Eight years later, Franklin happily spends her extra cash on summer camps for her two sons and family vacations. At $100 per week back in 1999, she wonders just how much she would be spending on cigarettes today.
“I am just one puff away from being a smoker. It is my addiction. I stay very focused that smoking is not going to happen to me again.”
Share your story of how you quit smoking by e-mailing Inside View. Ready to quit? Go to the Help Clear the Air Web site for information.