Smoke free means a lot more free time

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.

Smoke free means a lot more free time click to enlarge Rebecca Langham

When 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. She noticed how much time smoking took out of her day and hoped once she became smoke-free that she would have more free time, be more focused and be healthier. In the meantime, she had to deal with her triggers for smoking: craving one first thing in the morning, when she had caffeine, after eating, and while driving. During her TFTH session, she and the tobacco treatment specialist  discussed strategies for decreasing her desire to smoke at those times. Rebecca also chose to use the medication Chantix to help with quitting. 

UNC Health Care employees who participate in the TFTH program attend an hour-long initial assessment that includes a carbon monoxide (CO) screening. A safe level of CO, indicating no smoking, is 6 parts per million (ppm) or less. On Rebecca’s first visit, her CO level was 18 ppm; it plummeted to 2 ppm after she quit smoking. This evidence of decreased toxins in her body served to encourage and reinforce her goal of remaining tobacco free.

Rebecca has been smoke free since Oct. 25, 2012. She feels healthier, can breathe better, doesn’t smell from cigarette smoke, isn’t sick as much, has more money, and isn’t controlled by cigarettes any more. And yes, she has a lot more free time to do things she loves as well as to explore new activities and interests..

Rebecca appreciated the Tobacco Free Tar Heels program for the accountability built into it. She knew she’d be having regular conversations about her smoking with the tobacco treatment specialist. She’s pleased because there was no judgment about her smoking and the meeting hours were flexible depending on her schedule.

She would advise anyone interested in quitting smoking or tobacco use to get support from an objective, non-judgmental source, such as the TFTH program. For her it was the “right time to quit.”

If you (or a family member covered by your State Health Plan) are interested in the Tobacco Free Tar Heels program, contact Barbara Silver at 984-974-8455 or tobaccofreetarheels@unc.edu. More information about TFTH, including employee stories, can be found at www.ndp.unc.edu.

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