Smoking is a hard habit to kick. Beyond the addictive properties of nicotine, overtime smoking becomes ingrained into your lifestyle, habits and even how you identify yourself. And despite the facts about the negative impacts tobacco can have on your health, for some, it seems nearly impossible to quit.
That’s how one of our employees, Tanja, felt when she took the first step towards giving up smoking. Thanks to a lot of hard work, this August, she’ll celebrate one-year tobacco-free. I recently sat down with Tanja to talk about her struggles, triumphs, and tips for others. Please share this with a loved one you may know who needs to kick the habit.
What motivated you to finally quit smoking?
Quitting smoking has always been in the back of my mind, but I didn’t have the motivation to try. I enjoyed smoking. It was a way for me to relieve stress, but I knew there were risks.
Each year employees can have an annual wellness exam to check for high blood pressure, discuss diet and nutrition and review lifestyle habits such as exercise and smoking. During my last annual wellness visit, like the prior year, I received a positive result for tobacco use. But this year was different. I felt ashamed! I was fed up smelling like smoke and being a bad example for my kids. I started to think about my future and my children growing up to become successful men. I wanted to live to see that. That’s when I knew it was time to change.
How did you take the first step?
During my wellness visit the nurse and I discussed options for me to quit. She told me about the different nicotine replacement therapies and together we picked the best one for me.
The medication worked in a 90-day phase, and by day 90, I was supposed to be smoke-free. I reluctantly picked a day to quit during my first week of medication. It took a couple of tries, and I struggled the first week. But by week two, it became easier, and by week three, I had more energy.
I completed the 90-day cessation program and have not smoked another cigarette since. My one year anniversary is coming up in August, and I’m so proud of my accomplishments!
What tips and tricks helped you the most?
1. Change up your routine.
Even simple things like going to a different store than the one I bought cigarettes from helped reduce my urges.
2. Make new habits.
On my break, I stopped going outside. Instead, I started visiting co-workers at their desk for a quick conversation.
3. Work for it.
I created a list of five things that I could do fairly quickly. When I had an urge to smoke, I started on my list and told myself that if I still wanted a cigarette after I did everything on my list, then I could have one. I never made it down my list, and I never had a cigarette.
4. Chew gum.
After eating, I started chewing gum to take away that after meal need to smoke.
5. Get support.
The Quitline NC was instrumental in my success. I received a Quit Coach and used their website and phone support. On a bad day, I could pick up the phone and talk to someone who understood my struggle.
6. Put numbers to your progress.
I received daily texts from the Quitline NC, telling me how great I was doing and reminding me how much money I saved by not smoking.
And we’re here to help you, too.
Our customers have options to quit smoking as well. They can receive free tobacco cessation counseling (1-844-8NCQUIT), use online tools at www.smokefree.gov or register on BlueConnect for our Healthy Outcomes smoking cessation resources.
If you aren’t a BCBSNC customer, you can visit North Carolina’s Health and Human Services Tobacco Prevention Site, or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).