NWT Quitline

Look Who’s Quit Stories

Benoit Boutin (Yellowknife)

Are you still quit?

Yes!

How long has it been?

I have not touched any cigarettes since April 3, 2008 at 3 in the afternoon out behind the Lahm Ridge Tower!

How do you feel about having quit now, all these years later?

I feel more healthy of course.  My doctor asks me when I go for my annual check-up every year if I am still smoke free.  It’s the first question he asks. And when he hears my answer he just smiles and says “keep going!”

I never have the feeling that I want a cigarette except in a dream once a year or so. But at the same time, I am still tolerant of others smoking. I know how hard it is to quit. I keep an ashtray outside for guests but I don’t allow it in my house anymore. 

Was it difficult to remain smoke-free? What were the main challenges?

The first three or four months were the most difficult. It’s an addiction, like alcohol and gambling so it can be very hard to stop.  The influence of others smoking around you provides a big temptation.  You need to trust yourself and believe very strongly that you can do it. Self-discipline is important and so is support from others. Cessation aids like medication can also be very helpful. But in the end it comes down to you to make that break with tobacco, so you have to really want it.

What was the best thing for you about quitting?

The best thing about quitting was the improvement in my health. My whole body feels better. Even my dentist and dental therapist have commented on the improvement with my teeth.

Also, I used to have lots of problems with my sinuses when flying. I’d experience a lot of strong pain that made travelling almost intolerable. But this cleared up after I quit. It was a tremendous change – now when I take a plane there is no problem. 

Money was not an incentive for me, though I am glad I am not wasting my money on tobacco anymore.  Now when I go out somewhere with friends I don’t need to excuse myself to go off and smoke. I’m pretty happy about that!

The smell does not attract me. In fact, when you go in an elevator with someone who has been smoking you realise how bad you used to smell. I am really glad that I don’t smell like that anymore.

Fabien Hardisty (Fort Simpson)

Are you still quit?

Yes, it is going on 15 years for me.

How do you feel about having quit now, all these years later?

I feel good about it because it was something that I really wanted to do for myself and I succeeded! I have also been an inspiration to a couple of my friends who managed to quit and I feel proud about that.

Tobacco  is very addictive. In my teens I only smoked a bit socially. I was a very moderate smoker. But over the years it became a stronger habit and I got addicted.  Then I found it very difficult to quit.

Was it difficult to remain smoke-free? What were the main challenges?

At first there is a void that you need to fill. You have to find something to fill it with. Initially I thought, “maybe I should just give in to the craving”, but the longer I was smoke-free, the more determined I got. I kept asking myself “Why do I need to smoke?  Is there a real reason? “ But I realised there was absolutely no good reason to smoke and this helped me keep to my plan.

What was the best thing for you about quitting?

It is easier on my wallet and way better for my health.  Cigarettes are over 20$ a pack now in my community for. I look at quitting tobacco as a good investment in my life.

Julie Beaver (Fort Smith)

Are you still quit?

Yes

How long has it been?

It will be 11 years at the end of January.

How do you feel about having quit now, all these years later?

I feel really good about it. I could not imagine myself as a smoker now. I don’t miss it at all.

Was it difficult to remain smoke-free? What were the main challenges?

 I went to food as a substitute for cigarettes first and I had to find my way around that.  I moved to chewing gum to replace food. I had packs of gum everywhere. Then I went on to sunflower seeds. But eventually, I identified that pattern and was able to break it.

I had to identify my triggers and a friend who smoked was a major one for me. I had to avoid her for about 3 months before I felt sure of myself. 

I will say that there were times that I felt like having a cigarette, but I recognized that I was reacting to stress.  I realized that I used smoking to hide my anxiety.  I had to find other ways to deal with things that made me feel stressed or anxious.  For example, I started taking daily walks and the increase in exercise was a great way to de-stress. Other activities like knitting and beading really helped to keep me focused and occupied. 

What was the best thing for you about quitting?

Definitely not being stinky was a big bonus. And my health of course!

Any thoughts that might help others who want to make some changes for their health?

When I finally quit it was not because I wanted to. I had tried and got stressed out and then started again. But then I got a bad chest cold and just felt too sick to smoke – it physically hurt. So I thought, maybe this is an opportunity. I listened to my body and went with it.

Karen and Gary Pirker (Yellowknife)

Are you still quit?

Yes we are both still quit.

How long has it been?

It has been about 9 years now.

How do you feel about having quit now, all these years later?

Awesome! We don’t regret our decision and we don’t miss it one bit. The smell really bothers both of us now.

Was it difficult to remain smoke-free? What were the main challenges?

A lot of our friends were smokers so it was more difficult to be around them. We made our home smoke free and that really helped to cut down on our exposure to smoke. 

What was the best thing for you about quitting?

Quitting together was the best way to do it for us. We were able to support each other. We were at the stage where we were ready to quit. We talked about it a lot beforehand and really psyched ourselves up for our quit day.

Other good things about quitting were feeling better, having more energy and being able to smell things properly. And I don’t miss that sense of being labelled or seen as one of those people that smoke.

Any thoughts that might help others who want to make some changes for their health?

It was my first attempt to quit but my husband had tried a number of times without success.

Our children were a driving force in our decision. They did not like our smoking – and none of them have become smokers so hopefully we have set a good example.

I always encourage people to quit, but you have to be ready. You can’t be doing it for anyone but yourself. Getting ready involves talking about it and making a solid plan that will help you handle the temptations.

Mary Anne Francey (Inuvik)

Are you still quit?

Yes

How long has it been?

I quit in 2005 – right before my son was born.  I quit cold turkey.

How do you feel about having quit now, all these years later?

I am very thankful that I quit then because my asthma has gotten worse. I couldn’t imagine how bad it would be if I was still smoking.  The best thing is being able to take a full deep breath.  I forgot what that was like when I was a smoker.

Was it difficult to remain smoke-free? What were the main challenges?

I found it difficult because people around me were still smoking.  The first 5 years or so were a challenge because of the social scene. It is so much harder to stay quit when others are smoking around you. But now I can’t stand the smell and I think about the health risks and I know it would be crazy to go back to it.

What has been the best thing for you about quitting?

My asthma was really bad. I could not walk up the steps without having to puff. I go for long hikes now and taking steps aren’t a problem for me.

What advice do you have for smokers who would like to quit?

It took me about 5 times before I finally quit for good. You need to keep trying. Don’t give up just because you did not succeed the first time!

Natasha Kulikowski (Inuvik)

Are you still quit?

Yes

How long has it been?

13 years on Feb 5, 2019! I quit Feb 5, 2006. That is 4677 days without a cigarette as of today!

How do you feel about having quit now, all these years later?

I think it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Was it difficult to remain smoke-free? What were the main challenges?

No, when I finally decided to quit I was really ready. I deliberately moved into an apartment that I made non-smoking, making it much harder to have a cigarette. I would have had to go outdoors to smoke and that made it more inconvenient.

I used the patch for about 3 months and it worked very well to control my cravings. I don’t remember any side effects.  At 3 months I could go to a party where there was smoking and not feel that I needed a cigarette.

What was the best thing for you about quitting?

Having my breath back – being able to go upstairs without being winded.  And of course having more money. I bought my first home two years later. I probably would not have been able to do that if I was still shelling out $20 a day for cigarettes.

What advice do you have for smokers who would like to quit?

You can do it too – take it one day at a time! I put an X on the calendar for every day that I had been smoke-free. This kept me on track and motivated.

Richard “Rick”Snider (Fort Simpson)

Are you still quit?

Yes

How long has it been?

It’s about 14 years now. I quit in 2004 and haven’t touched a smoke since then.

How do you feel about having quit now, all these years later?

I quit smoking because I was a diabetic and had other health problems  that were made worse by my smoking. My doctor told me I had to quit and I believed him. I had been a medic and I knew what the Dr. said was true. I had never even tried to quit before. It was my first time. I made up my mind to quit and just did it.  The big thing is that you have to make the decision yourself to quit and you need to have the willpower to follow through.

Was it difficult to remain smoke-free? What were the main challenges?

For the first two weeks it was really challenging. But the thing is, you need to keep yourself busy fill in the time with other things rather than smoking.  You need to keep away from where people are smoking,  at least for the first while  and you need stay away from partying and drinking.  That will take you back to smoking fast.

What was the best thing for you about quitting?

My breathing is a lot better and generally my whole health system is improved.  I am so glad that I’m not spending 23$ for a pack of cigarettes anymore! I can do other things with my money.

Any thoughts that might help others who want to make some changes for their health?

We do a lot of things to stay healthy and active – check traps, cut wood and our grandkids keep us active. My children all went out for more education and none of them smoke tobacco. My daughter is a teacher here and I go into the school and talk to the kids about how to stay healthy and avoid diabetes.  I show them what it involves and try to discourage them from eating too much sugar.

Shirley Peterson (Fort McPherson)

Are you still quit?

Yes

How long has it been?

It has been about 15 years or so since I quit.

How do you feel about having quit now, all these years later?

I feel that it is a huge accomplishment.  There ‘s no turning back or looking back for me. Being in the education field it was important to be a role model for my students.  I taught about the effects of tobacco on health. You need to be able to walk the talk. My students knew that I had made a choice based on health.

Was it difficult to remain smoke-free? What were the main challenges?

I did not find it too difficult to remain smoke –free. After making it through the first week, I knew I would be OK. I had quite a few friends who had quit and they were a good support for me. 

It just became a norm for me to be a non-smoker. I can now be around people who are smoking and it does not affect me.

What was the best thing for you about quitting?

The best thing was having more energy to do things and being a positive example to young people.

Any thoughts that might help others who want to make some changes for their health?

Smoking is unhealthy and can be difficult to quit, but making up your mind and sticking to being smoke free will be a challenge but very rewarding.  After quitting, I value time spent on the land with my mom, going for walks, appreciating the healthier choices being made.