Lonnie Harp, Town of Chapel Hill Firefighter, made several attempts to stop using smokeless tobacco. However, he found that each time he returned to his tobacco use, citing the enjoyment of having something in his mouth as a contributing factor. – and being able to spit it out.

In March he decided he wanted to try quitting again because he felt as if his gums were getting worse from the tobacco.  He has now been tobacco free for 6 months. He cites numerous reasons he’s happy about it: the inside of his mouth feels smooth, his dental health has improved, he doesn’t have to worry about his children seeing him dip or carry around the spit bottle, and he hopes being tobacco free will add years to his life.

Mr. Harp decided to use Varenicline (Chantix) to help him stop using tobacco. In the past he had used a nicotine patch and nicotine gum, but felt that using Chantix “would be easier.” Chantix was effective because it kept the tobacco from being pleasurable and he no longer got the nicotine “high” from the dip. In addition to the medication, Lonnie worked with his tobacco treatment counselor to develop other strategies to implement when he wanted to use tobacco. He used hard candies, regular chewing gum, and mints to have something non-tobacco in his mouth.  He was careful not to hold them in his usual place he held dip, so as not to reinforce that feeling.  He is glad to be free of tobacco and says, “I don’t want to go there again.”

“After I quit I kept telling myself if I have one today, then I have to start back over at Day 1.  Day 1 always seemed like the hardest thing.”

Lonnie appreciates having access to the Wellness@Work Tobacco Cessation program because of the support he received when he needed it from his counselor, Barbara Silver. Being able to receive the medication for free through the program was helpful.  Lonnie is presently on a lower dose of Chantix and checks in with Barbara periodically for support.

If you are a Chapel Hill Town Employee, and want to quit smoking, vaping or using smokeless tobacco, contact Barbara Silver, 919-904-4848 (phone or text), barbara_silver@med.unc.edu.
The program is free and includes support and free medication. If you quit using tobacco for 6 months, you receive $100 gift card. Quit for another 6 months and receive another $100!