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By Barbara Silver


When Nancy DePalma found herself driving to the store over icy roads to buy cigarettes, or smoking butts she found in her ashtrays, she realized she had a problem. She was “sick and tired” of being held captive by her cigarette addiction and embarrassed when her patients and friends smelled cigarette smoke on her.

Luckily, Nancy saw an article in the Employee News about a free program for UNC Health Care employees who want to quit tobacco. Nancy set up an appointment to meet with Barbara Silver, a Tobacco Treatment Specialist. They first met in person at the UNC Hospice Inpatient Unit, where Nancy works. She was a bit skeptical because cigarettes had been her “friend” for over 40 years.

After Nancy and Barbara discussed options for tobacco cessation medications, they agreed that Varenicline (Chantix) was the best option. In addition to the medication, they discussed various strategies for Nancy to use during the times of day when she craves cigarettes. Nancy wanted to replace her tobacco use with healthy behaviors!

Nancy has been tobacco free since August and reports many benefits:

  • Breathing easy without coughing,
  • No shortness of breath,
  • No smell in her car or on her clothes,
  • More free time to do other things, and
  • More than $500 saved from not buying cigarettes!

She realizes now that cigarettes weren’t really her friend because a friend wouldn’t cost you so much money and health.

To learn more about the FREE Tobacco Free Tarheels program, email, or call/text 919-904-4848.