Tobacco-Free Tar Heels Success Story: Jennifer Leonard

Jennifer Leonard smoked for 35 years, and wasn't sure she was "strong enough to quit." But when her 8-year-old granddaughter Chloe asked her to quit so she could live long enough to attend Chloe's wedding, Jennifer enrolled in the Tobacco-Free Tar Heels Program the next day.

After smoking for 35 years, Ms. Leonard was skeptical about her ability to quit. She wasn’t sure she was “strong enough”.  Jennifer had tried before, but her 8-year-old granddaughter, Chloe, was the impetus for her most recent, and successful attempt. Chloe asked Jennifer to please stop smoking so she would live long enough to attend her wedding. That was all Jennifer needed to hear. Her purpose in life was focused on living longer for her granddaughter. The next day Jennifer called the Tobacco Free Tar Heels to sign up for the free program.

Jennifer appreciated meeting face-to-face with Barbara Silver, Program Manager for the Tobacco Free Tar Heels, because that made it more personal.  Ms. Silver also helped Jennifer identify her triggers for smoking, such as first thing in the morning, driving, and after meals. She and Barbara worked together to create strategic tools to help during these trigger events such as keeping a journal, distracting herself with another task and coloring books. These strategies helped her to view smoking differently. She used them daily. Whenever she had questions, she emailed the program manager and received a prompt response.

Jennifer faced an enormous challenge during her time in the program. Her dog was killed by a hit-and-run driver as she watched. She was distraught all week, and thought about smoking, but told herself she wasn't going to return to smoking after she had come this far.

Ms. Leonard feels fortunate to have had the support of friends and co-workers in becoming tobacco free. Every time she posted updates on Facebook about how long she had been smoke-free, she was overwhelmed by positive responses.

According to her, the benefits of being tobacco free keep increasing - from getting rid of her constant cough, to saving much needed money. She also likes the fact that the Tobacco Free Tar Heels is a free program, saving her even more money.

If you are interested in quitting tobacco and are a UNC Health Care employee or dependent of an employee, contact Barbara Silver to set up an appointment.

Barbara Silver, 919-904-4848

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