Hard to quit? Yes. Impossible? No.


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David Sweat

David Sweat’s Story: Remember Your Reason

David Sweat, Chief Epidemiologist at the Shelby County Health Department, sat down with the Tobacco Risk Reduction Coordinator to share his story of how he quit smoking. David started smoking in 1981 at the age of 17. Being from North Georgia, tobacco farming was a part of his family history which was one of the contributing factors in his decision to smoke. “Tobacco was just part of the culture I grew up in. Between the farmers who grew it and having several family members who smoked, it was easy to pick up the habit,” he says. Before tobacco use was banned in public places, smoking was more socially accepted and cigarette taxes were low then, which made smoking more affordable for David.

For ten years David would smoke four to five packs of cigarettes a month. For many this may not be a lot, but David considered himself to be a social smoker while hanging out with friends. Though David was not a heavy smoker, he was motivated to quit while in graduate school earning his master of public health degree. David felt that in order to set a good example as a future public health professional he had to become healthier himself.

More media awareness on the health effects of smoking and shift in public policy motivated him even more to quit the habit. David surrounded himself with health conscious peers who were also being trained in public health as reinforcement for his decision to quit and stay quit. Because David was not a heavy smoker, he describes his quit attempt as relatively easy. He quit successfully for two years until stressors in his life caused strong urges to smoke again. David prevailed and has remained smoke free since 1991. David’s advice to those who are trying to quit is to:

  • understand your reason for quitting that is more important than smoking
  • understand your triggers and be aware of them. Limit those exposures or avoid them all together.

“I would just encourage anyone who smokes to believe that they can quit, regardless of how much they smoke or how long they have been smoking. I would also say that in the long run it is worth it to quit. Everything smells better, tastes better, and you will have more money and energy to do other things you enjoy. Quitting smoking is absolutely one of the best decisions I ever made.”

Lady silhouette

Cammy Mills’ Story: It takes time to quit

I smoked nearly 1 to 1.5 packs a day for 41-42 years. I truly enjoyed smoking and did not want to quit. I knew all the reasons I should but was stubborn about it. One day one of my co-workers told me her husband started the vapor cigarettes, and afterwards did not want to smoke a regular cigarette. I was passing by the store she told me about a couple of weeks later, and, even though I was thinking there is no way this would work, I went in to check it out. I purchased my kit and proceeded to smoke my cigarettes that night. The next morning I decided to “try” my new gadget and left my cigarettes at home when I came to work. I was angry at myself as soon as I left home thinking I was going to have a HUGE struggle. However, it was not hard.

After the first week my tank broke that holds the vapor, and I did not have a way to get to the store to replace it until the next day. After several hours, I tried a regular cigarette. To my great surprise and amazement, I did not enjoy the sensation or the smell of it at all! That was 4-1/2 months ago. I have not had the first cigarette and have not wanted one. I have tapered off on the nicotine level on my vapor cigarette to a very low level and hope to be off this completely in the very near future. It has been so easy, and I am beyond proud. I have not used my inhaler since I had my last cigarette which never happens. Good luck to everyone in your quest to quit! This has worked for me.


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