Robert Jenkins - A proud quitter

Robert Jenkins, who works in the Gift Shop, enrolled in UNC Health Care’s Tobacco Free Tar Heels program. He had been smoking since he was 15 years old - “too long,” he said.

Robert Jenkins - A proud quitter click to enlarge Robert Jenkins

As with so many teens, the “cool factor” led Robert to smoke. Although he continued smoking for years, he grew tired of it and wanted to quit. He knew was ready to leave cigarettes behind, but he still battled the daily triggers, which occurred while drinking his morning coffee, after finishing meals, and during stress. A co-worker told him she had quit with the support of the Tobacco Free Tar Heels (TFTH) program and suggested he give it a try.

UNC Hospitals' employees who participate in the TFTH program attend an hour-long initial interview where carbon monoxide (CO) levels are checked with a Smokerlyzer, which gives CO levels in parts per million (ppm). A typical non-smoker’s level will be 5 ppm or less. On Robert’s first visit, his CO level was 47ppm, indicating heavy smoking and dependence. He was delighted to see that level plummet to 2 ppm after he quit smoking, which encouraged him and reinforced his goal of remaining tobacco-free.

Robert began his efforts to quit by using a nicotine patch and a nicotine inhaler (“puffer”). The patch helped by keeping a steady rate of nicotine in his body and the inhaler was there for him to use when he had extra cravings. He particularly liked the inhaler because it mimicked the motion of hand to mouth that he also had when he was smoking.

Robert says that quitting smoking isn’t easy, but if you are ready, you should give it a try. Trying costs nothing and the medications are free to UNC Hospitals' employees through the TFTH program. Now he doesn’t even think about smoking and knows he will never pick up a cigarette again.

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 919-445-5358 or More information about TFTH, including employee stories, can be found at

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