John Fanning, 47, an employee at the DC Department of Parks and Recreation, had been a “light” menthol cigarette smoker since age 16, but now lives an active, smokefree life with the help of the DC Quitline. After witnessing the complications his family members’ suffered from tobacco use, while experiencing physical difficulties of his own, Fanning decided it was time to quit.
“My grandmother and father both smoked several packs of cigarettes a day for many decades and developed serious health problems from it,” said Fanning. “I quit once before when I was 20 years old, but started smoking again four years later. I’ve always been an athlete and I knew that smoking was adversely affecting my performance, but I kept smoking until about 3 months ago when I kept experiencing shortness of breath during physical activities.
Like many smokers who decide to quit, Fanning was also motivated to quit smoking because of social pressure.
“Not too long ago, I re-connected with a co-worker at a social event and was immediately embarrassed by her reaction to the fact that I smelled like cigarettes. When I quit recently, she was one of the main people I called to give her the good news!
Since he quit, John has noticed a lot of changes, which keep him motivated to maintain a tobacco free lifestyle.
“My sense of taste and smell have come back, my skin and clothing don’t smell like cigarettes anymore, and I now have the stamina and energy to go to the gym regularly and play softball again. Even better is the support I receive from family, friends, and co-workers, who are all relieved that I no longer smoke!
For DC residents who are thinking about quitting, John offers a few words of encouragement.
“If you are thinking about calling the Quitline, don’t think about it-just do it. I can’t imagine a better opportunity for you to save the thousands of dollars you will normally spend on more cigarettes or nicotine patches and lozenges if you decide not to call. It’s a win-win situation for you and your loved ones.
February 2010 – Denise Matheny, 45, smoked menthol cigarettes since age 14, but now lives a triumphant, smokefree life with the help of the DC Quitline. Like many smokers, Matheny had many problems associated with smoking, but one of her biggest motivations for quitting was the health of her two sons, ages 7 and 16.
“I smoked during both pregnancies and my children developed asthma, says Matheny. “My youngest son began to depend on medication for his asthma because it had gotten so bad. That’s when I decided that I needed to quit smoking. When I came into the Quitline office to stop smoking, they showed me all the chemicals I was exposing my children to and that really sealed it for me. I remember smelling cigarette smoke in his clothes and my clothes and seeing how bad his asthma was. Since I quit, my son no longer needs his medication!
Matheny has discovered many other benefits of quitting since then.
“My clothes and hands smell better. My face is clearer and I don’t lose my breath when I walk up stairs. It’s like your body becomes 100 percent again. Today, I feel the way I should have felt in my 20s. My message to smokers is that there’s a big blessing in store for you when you quit. Instead of smoking, I now have more time to engage in positive things, like caring for my children. I encourage you to take advantage of this free program, because nothing beats a failure but a try.
Michael Anderson – “I Quit, I Slipped and Now I Quit for Good!
January 2010 – Whenever I think about my addiction to cigarettes, I think back on when I first began to smoke. I was 11 almost 12 years old. I started with a pack of Kools, and whenever I asked grown men for a cigarette, they gave it to me, because I was too young to buy for myself. After smoking for many years, I decided to quit so I could avoid health problems and please God, but I knew that I needed help. I called the Quitline and received a Counselor named John, who called me every Friday to see how I was doing for free! I also heard from Charles of Breathe DC and also received encouragement from the members at my church, who were ex-smokers. After quitting for at least 90 days, things began to happen. I noticed many changes like better breathing and that bad smell of tobacco was gone, but it didn’t last long. I became weak and started smoking again.Â
I was doing fine and then slipped a second time. I decided to go to my Bishop for spiritual counseling, and then made a final decision that I had to give up the cigarettes, if I want to be a changed man. I called the Quitline again and was referred to the American Lung Association of DC where I talked with Mr. Wright, who set up a meeting. He provided me with patches, lozenges, and sugar-free gum that really helped me fight the cravings. Mr. Wright told me that if I had any problems, I could call him any time, and he would help me.
With much determination, prayer and counseling, I can now say I am Free, physically and spiritually. Thank you DCTFF for your help!
TO GOD BE THE GLORY!Â FOR THE GREAT THINGS HE HAS DONE!
Shuta Myoli’s Story
December 2009 – Shuta Myoli began smoking at the age of 11 when he and his cousins snuck into his father’s cigarette stash one day, and has continued to smoke well into adulthood.
My father was a pipe and cigarette smoker. I thought it was cool and fun, but I soon became addicted to the nicotine in the cigarettes, said Myoli.
At the time, a pack of 10 cigarettes was only 5 cents, making it very accessible to Myoli. As time passed, he began smoking 1 pack a day and eventually turned to menthol cigarettes, which led to serious health complications.
After 30 years of smoking, I began to experience what I thought were asthma attacks, but when I went to the doctor, I found out I had emphysema. I was in total denial and continued to smoke.
Myoli’s decision to quit smoking came in 2006 after he collapsed and was admitted into the hospital.
That experience was traumatic for me. I remembered seeing a lot of posters on the bus about a free quit program, 800-QUIT-NOW, and decided to call.
Since Myoli’s first quit attempt in 2006, his condition has elevated to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). He has made several quit attempts and remains persistent in his effort to live tobacco free.
There is no worse addiction than smoking cigarettes. I have known many people who smoked crack cocaine and other substances, but when they decided to quit, that was the end of it. Smoking cigarettes is completely different. That is why I am so grateful to have a strong support system in the DC Tobacco Free Families. It is why I am still alive today.
Aside from reducing the severity of his COPD, Myoli enjoys significant benefits from staying tobacco free. When I quit smoking, I notice my breathing improves, my nails and hands look cleaner and healthier. It’s like a whole weight is lifted off my shoulders, and I don’t have to sneak around to smoke a cigarette.
As he continues to fight his addiction to nicotine, Myoli is encouraging smokers who want to quit to take action now. Studies show that it may take as many as seven quit attempts to quit for good, so as Myoli is doing, smokers should never give up trying to quit. There are now more Americans who have quit than those who are smoking.
Each time I slipped, I was always welcomed with open arms by the staff at DCTFF and that really helps me to push forward and work toward quitting for good, which I know will with the help of this program. I highly recommend the face-to-face approach that this program offers. When you first decide to quit smoking, you are very nervous and need someone to encourage you and keep you focused on the goal, because it’s a very difficult process. This program allows you to come in and speak to someone and learn how to use these products and develop new, positive habits in place of smoking. It is really helpful.
Patricia Jackson’s Story
September 2009 – Patricia Jackson is a retired federal employee who recently enrolled in the free DCTFF smoking cessation program by calling 800-QUIT-NOW. Having been a smoker since the age of 18, Jackson found it very difficult to fight her addiction to nicotine.
I tried to quit a few times before, because my doctor told me that smoking was affecting my breathing, but I kept slipping back into the addiction, she said.
Jackson suffered from bronchitis and other conditions affecting her breathing, which caused her to rely on an inhaler. On April 30, 2009, she made the decision to call the Quitline and enrolled in the free NRT and counseling program. Though Jackson experienced withdrawal as she had during previous quit attempts, her coping experience was much different.
Being enrolled in the program and getting that free counseling made all the difference. When I was having real bad cravings, I called my counselor and he talked me through it until I didn’t need a cigarette anymore! It didn’t matter what time of day it was, he was always there to help me overcome the temptation of smoking another cigarette.
Since she quit, Jackson has come to enjoy other activities that were too difficult to do as a smoker.
Sometimes, I take walks around the neighborhood. Before I quit smoking, I couldn’t even walk up the steps without feeling out of breath. I don’t need my inhaler anymore. I can breathe!
As Jackson continues her tobacco free journey, she always tries to encourage others to join her.
People are noticing physical changes in me since I quit smoking. My skin is clearer and I have more energy now. When they ask me what I am doing differently, that’s when I tell them about the Quitline. I carry 800-QUIT-NOW cards with me all the time.
Deborah Cabbell: “DCTFF Saved My Life”
August 2009 – Deborah Cabbell quit smoking two months ago by calling the DC Quitline, 800-QUIT NOW. Cabbell, a menthol cigarette smoker for more than 30 years, never tried to quit before; but her failing health made it clear that it was time to make a change.Â
Early this year, Cabbell made that critical decision after a conversation with her doctor at a Unity HealthcareÂ clinic who warned her that her toe would be amputated if she continued to smoke, since she had poor blood circulation. Cabbell who also suffers from asthma, took her doctorâ€™s advice and called the DCâ€ˆQuitline, 800-QUIT-NOW.
After talking to my doctor, I was scared for my life, Cabbell said. I was determined to get my life back, so gave it a try; but I never thought my experience would be this good.
Since she quit smoking, Cabbell has experienced dramatic improvements in her health.
When I went in for my first appointment at the American Lung Association [of DC], my carbon monoxide level was 29, but when I came back two weeks later, I blew a 2. Since I quit, I don’t need my asthma medication and my doctor says I don’t need the surgery.
Instead of smoking, Cabbell has found the time and money to do things that mean most to her.
I love my grand kids and now I spend every moment that I can with them. I want to be around when they grow up and now I believe that can really happen because I am free from cigarettes. I even go to church now and rely more on God to relieve my stress instead of cigarettes. You all [DCTFF] have saved my life in more ways than one.
Quitline Caller, Robert Miles: “DCTFF Saved My Life”
July 2009 – On Valentine’s Day, Robert Miles, who suffers from severe bronchial asthma, made the decision to quit after a doctor’s visit at Howard University Medical Center.Â
During my physical, the doctor asked me to call the number [800 QUITNOW], because my asthma would get worse if I kept smoking. Miles usually experienced 3-4 asthma attacks per day.
I could barely walk up the street without having a real bad attack, he said. My condition was becoming unbearable, so I knew he was telling me right. I knew if I got help this time, I could be successful.
In 1994, Miles quit smoking after struggling with asthma episodes and for a dozen years his asthma improved. But, in 2006, when both of his parents died, he began smoking to help him cope with his loss. Since then his asthma has worsened to the point where he struggled to breathe daily.
Even after only one month, Miles has noticed major changes in his health.
My doctor has now given me a lower dosage for my asthma medication, because it’s not as bad as it was when I was smoking. I take long walks now without having an attack and I am gaining my weight back. A lot of times, when I smoked, I didn’t feel like eating, so I lost a lot of weight.
Four of Miles’ friends and family members have noticed his success in the program and have since enrolled in the free Quitline program.
I encourage everyone I talk to who is interested in quitting to use this program because it really works. I give out brochures and Quit cards to people all the time, because I want them to feel as good as I do. Cigarettes no longer have control over my life, thanks to [DC] Tobacco Free Families.
The decision to quit smoking is usually made under pressure from members of their social group. For Jordon, the rising cost of cigarettes added to the pressure to quit.
I was tired of spending all that money on cigarettes. It just wasn’t worth it, she said.
After decades of smoking, the decision to quit wasn’t easy for these women, but the immediate benefits made the choice worthwhile.
My food tastes so much better now and my doctor is thrilled with how quitting has improved my health overall, said Bagley. I know my granddaughter will be excited.
All three women suffer from chronic diseases that are exacerbated by smoking. Since they quit, their diseases have improved significantly, requiring lower medications.
Their personal experience with the DC Quitline and living tobacco free has motivated the women to share their knowledge with neighbors in the community by handing out
QUIT NOW cards and urging friends and neighbors to quit smoking.
When I am in the laundromat, I tell people not to smoke in there,Jordon said. Before I quit, I didn’t know anything about the deadly ingredients in tobacco smoke and what it was doing to my body. Calling the Quitline, inspired me to educate people around me because they need to hear the truth.
Quitting tobacco is a difficult challenge for anyone, but these women are on a mission to show the community that the right kind of help and support makes it possible.
At first, I didn’t believe I could do it, because I tried before. White said. But the free nicotine replacement therapy and counseling I receive from DC Tobacco Free Families is really helping, not to mention the support I have in my friends. If a smoker asked me for advice right now, I would tell them my story and that it doesn’t matter how many years they smoked –the Quitline really helps.
Three Women Show Their Community the Value of Living Tobacco FreeÂ
September 2008 – Most people view tobacco addiction as a battle to be fought alone, but three women in Northeast Washington, DC understand the cliche` œthereâs strength in numbers,â€ as they strive to remain tobacco free after decades of smoking. Wilma White, who recently decided to quit after smoking for more than 30 years, encouraged her friends, Dorothy Bagley and Cathy Jordon to join her by calling the DC Quitline, 800-QUIT-NOW.
At first, I wasnt ready to quit smoking, White said. But my grandchildren kept begging me to quit, so I knew I had to do it for them and called the Quitline.
Dorothy Bagley and Cathy Jordon decided to follow in their friends footsteps after seeing how successful White was in quitting.Â This series of events is not unusual as a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concludes that a person is more likely to quit smoking and stay quit if he or she is part of a social network of nonsmokers or those who are also quitting.
â€œNorms change, and whole groups of smokers will quit at once, says Dr. Nicholas Christakis of Harvard University Department of Sociology and leader of the study.
It would have been really hard to stop on my own… But having people there to encourage me is the one thing to keep me going. I feel that I needed to quit for my daughter, in order to give her a mother that would be there for her always.
The energy and the joy for life that I feel now is something that I would have never felt if I would have continued smoking. Smoking was a poor substitute for those things lacking in my life. I’m glad I’ve finally appreciated what’s important….Living a smoke free life! Thank you so much for the support that you’ve given!Â
-Cherie Carney (Willard Intercontinental, Smokefree since January 24, 2006.)