July 29, 2020
"I can still hear Jaime saying, 'You're a non-smoker.' "
Valerie* was a tobacco user for about 25 years. She hid her habit from most people. Only those who were close to Valerie knew that she smoked.
Valerie decided to enroll in the Freedom from Tobacco class at St. Peter's Health because she wanted to quit using tobacco. Plus, she had a trip coming up. The thought of finding somewhere to smoke in airports and abroad was unappealing.
It wasn't the first time that Valerie tried to quit smoking. But this time was different.
"This time was different because I was surrounded by others in the same situation and surrounded by leader's support," she said. "They didn't just go over the program from a book; it was interactive. I also thought it was good that a pharmacist and counselor attended the class."
Jaime Larese is a Certified Tobacco Cessation Specialist, facilitator of the Freedom from Smoking classes and a former smoker.
"It was also very helpful to have a leader who used to use tobacco. They truly understand," Valerie said.
For Valerie, the best part of the program was the fact that class participants started to talk about quitting before actually quitting. "We had a plan, it was thought out, and we talked about what quit day might look like."
Valerie's quit day has now come and gone.
"I am still smoke-free with no slip-ups. It's not been easy, but I'm doing it! 5 months!!! Whoohoo!"
*Participant's name changed to protect privacy