Tobacco Free Tar Heels Success Story: Ashlee Copelan

Ashlee, like many others, had tried to quit smoking many times. But after reading a story in News for Employees about UNC Health Care’s Tobacco Free Tar Heels (TFTH) Program, she reached out to Barbara Silver,TFTH Program Manager , and Copelan was “off and running”.

When Silver congratulated Copelan on being 8 months tobacco free, Copelan quickly corrected her: “8 months and 4 days!” Copelan marks the 26th on her calendar each month to celebrate a wonderful milestone in her life. It would be an understatement to say that she is excited about this accomplishment. “It is the best feeling next to childbirth!”

After reading about the TFTH program in the employee newsletter, Copelan, an administrative assistant in the Hillsborough Medical Office Building, reached out to Silver and set up a time to meet. They discussed her options for medication and decided on nicotine patches and bupropion, both of which helped reduce her cravings to smoke. Copelan was pleasantly surprised at how few cravings she actually experienced and how easy it was to quit smoking.

Copelan enjoys breathing better and not coughing “like a 90 year old.” She uses the money she’s saved for her car insurance, which just so happened to increase the same week she quit!  Talk about good timing.  Her house, car and person smell so much better that she’s no longer embarrassed or worried that people at work will find out. Now that she is tobacco free, she wants everybody to know about her accomplishment!

Copelan claims that she couldn’t have quit without the support of Silver and the TFTH program, which provided her with free medications and counseling. She also learned strategies to remain tobacco free. During a recent period of stress, something that might have triggered a return to her old bad habits in the past, she reminded herself that “smoking doesn’t change anything” or help the difficult situation. 

If you are a UNC Health Care employee who is interested in quitting tobacco – smoking, chewing, dipping or vaping – please contact Barbara Silver to enroll for 12 weeks of FREE medication and support. Dependents enrolled on the employee’s health plan are also eligible. barbara_silver@med.unc.edu. Phone 984-974-8455.

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