Tyron Edwards, or T.Y., as he is known, entered the Wellness @ Work Tobacco Free Employee Program soon after it begin in fall 2011. He smoked between 1–2 packs of cigarettes per day, and had been smoking since he was 16 years old. He reported being “just tired of smoking.” Even with his readiness, he said that it was hard to do and he needed to put in the effort so he wouldn’t backslide. T.Y. was drawn to the program by the financial incentive of $100 if he remained tobacco free for six months. He bought his own patches, and believes that spending his own money for those also increased his incentive to quit. He credits the Wellness at Work program for diagnosing him correctly and for prescribing the correct medication. He also said the support he received from his family and friends was a big help.
Robb English, the Aquatics Supervisor in Chapel Hill’s Parks and Recreation Department, dipped almost a can of tobacco a day when he came to the Wellness at Work Tobacco Free Employee Program. As a teenager who played sports, Robb says that dipping tobacco was part of the culture, less overt and obvious than smoking cigarettes. But now Robb wanted to give himself the best chance for living a healthy life, so he took the first step: enrolling in a program that offered support and medications to help him achieve his goal.
When nursing assistant Rebecca Langham enrolled in UNC Health Care System’s Tobacco Free Tar Heels (TFTH) program, she had been smoking a pack of cigarettes daily since she was 16 years old. Today, thanks to TFTH and her own personal dedication, she's tobacco free.
Paul Moss, Fire Captain, joined the Wellness at Work Tobacco Cessation Program in June, 2012, and was able to quit smoking shortly thereafter. At the time, he was smoking a pack a day and had been doing so since he was 18 years old. When asked why he wanted to quit smoking, he replied that he had been thinking about it for a while, and when he heard about the Wellness@Work Tobacco Cessation Program, the timing just worked for him. According to Paul, he was going through a divorce, which actually reduced his stress level. Also, he realized that he was spending at least $5/day on cigarettes and it would be a way to save a lot of money. In addition, being newly single, he discovered that the women he met didn’t want to date smokers. Because of that, he met the woman he is in a relationship with, who is also a non-smoker and said she was glad she didn’t meet him when he was smoking.
January 26, 2016 will be two years since Matt Englund has been tobacco free. This wasn't Matt’s first attempt at quitting, but he says it’s his last. Four years prior, he quit for a year without using any medication. He used the “Delay” method. (When you crave a cigarette, delay, delay, delay.) That worked until the stress of school, work, and a new baby made him feel like he wanted to smoke again. This most recent period of smoking lasted about 18 months. It was then that he went to his primary care physician at Family Medicine, who asked him if he smoked. When he responded "yes," the physician asked if he wanted help in quitting. When Matt responded “yes” again, he referred Matt to the UNC Tobacco Free Tar Heels Program. Since his wife was a UNC Health Care employee, and Matt was a dependent on her insurance, he was able to enter the free program.
If you are a smoker or are close to someone who is, you may have found that smoking can impact relationships. Martha Killough, an outpatient coordinator in the N.C. Cancer Hospital, discovered this. After being married to a non-smoker for two years, she became depressed about the distance smoking put between her and her husband. Beyond her concerns about her relationship with her husband, Martha struggled to hide her smoking from others. She brushed her teeth frequently and put lotion on her hands to cover up the odor. She avoided people because she knew everyone could smell the smoke on her. Martha started smoking at age 14. Smoking cigarettes was a part of her daily routine for 36 years before she decided to give it up. “It was depressing to even think about quitting,” Martha said. “I just felt like it was going to be hard.”
Lana Simons, a Chapel Hill Transit employee, has been tobacco free for 2½ years! She says it’s a “nicer way to live,” not having cigarettes as part of her life, and she is proud of herself for doing it. Lana had never tried to quit smoking before, but when she heard that the Wellness@Work program offered free medication and $100 incentives for quitting, she said to herself, “might as well try.” She was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was, especially after smoking a pack a day for 50 years.
After smoking for more than 40 years, with a brief three-year smoke-free period, Joe Manginelli, a Patient Business Associate at UNC Hospitals Spine and Imaging Center, had his last cigarette on September 22, 2011.
Howard Sutton, clinical support technician in the Department of Anesthesia, enrolled in the Tobacco Free Tar Heels program three years ago. Today he is tobacco free. When Howard Sutton enrolled in the Tobacco Free Tar Heels (TFTH) program three years ago, stress in his life seemed to be the biggest barrier to quitting smoking. After trying different strategies for dealing with stress, he always found himself turning back to smoking for relief.
Erin Barringer, a nursing assistant in the Neurosciences Hospital, began smoking socially in 10th grade, and over the years she increased her smoking to one-half pack of cigarettes a day. She continued at this level until 2010 when she found out she was pregnant. She remained tobacco free through her pregnancy and breastfeeding until her daughter, Jalliyah, was about 6 months old. At that time, she returned to smoking socially -- and also did so to help deal with stress. When Jalliyah was old enough to be aware of Erin’s smoking, she told her mother that she didn’t like it and made her promise to quit. Erin agreed, but wasn’t sure how to go about it until one day she saw Laurel Sisler from the Nicotine Dependence Program visiting inpatients on her floor. Erin asked if there was a program to help employees quit smoking and Laurel told her about the Tobacco Free Tar Heels Program (TFTH).
Ebony joined the Tobacco Free Tar Heels program nearly two years ago. At that time, she had cut down on her smoking from more than a pack a day to just a few cigarettes, but she couldn’t seem to quit those last few. Her boyfriend was allergic to cigarette smoke and really didn’t like her smoking. She was thinking about ending the relationship with him in order to continue the relationship with her cigarettes, and she was angry at herself that cigarettes had such a hold on her. Then she heard about our program, Tobacco Free Tar Heels (TFTH), a free program for UNC Health Care employees. TFTH provides assistance for making a quit plan, which may include cessation medications at no charge., as well as weekly follow-up for ongoing support.
Claudia Sibila, a medical interpreter in the Interpreter Services Department, did not realize how much her friends and family truly influenced her every day. “The people that surround you become a part of you,” she said. “A positive influence is important.” Her three pregnancies provided Sibila with motivation for being tobacco free. Yet, she found herself sliding back and smoking again after her children were born. She considered herself to be an on and off smoker, with periods of abstinence followed by periods of smoking, especially when she felt stressed or upset.
Smoking on and off since I was thirteen, I’d tried every trick in the book to stop. Every attempt ended in failure, whether it was stopping cold turkey or gradually with the help of medication. I became, as the old joke goes, an expert on quitting. After all, I’d done it so many times. But, with the help of the Nicotine Dependence Program it seems to be working. Not only am I smoke-free, but I don’t really think much about smoking any more. I knew when I chose to stop that I needed help to do it. I was looking for a program that would provide structure and accountability without sermons or judgment. This program does that and more.
Bob Pendergraph, an HVAC Mechanic who works in Plant Engineering, is a family man who enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, biking, and fishing. He realized that his smoking was preventing him from being active with his grandchildren. He also noticed that many people and places in his life were becoming smoke free and he did not want to inconvenience others with his smoking. Although he was not pressured by his family to quit, he knew that quitting was the best thing for him and would help him to set a better example for his children and grandchildren. “Why do I need these cigarettes?” Pendergraph asked himself. “They are just a crutch.”