A reason to quit
In his 40s, Rodger Bernar quit smokingat the request of his fiancée—a reluctantprenuptial gift. But one cigar at a partyled to a weekend habit, and then tocigarettes when cigars weren’t handy.
“Lo and behold,” he says, “I started
Eight years later, Bernar began noticing
his heart racing at night, often after a
heavy bout of smoking. Now he had
his own reason to quit. He tried several
methods with varying effects and no
Then friends suggested he read TheEasy Way to Quit Smoking by Allen Carr.
He learned that nicotine addiction is asmuch a psychological as it is a physicaladdiction. And that withdrawal occursin as little as 45 minutes, compoundingthe stress smokers are seeking to relieve.
He realized his brain was programmedto need tobacco.
Then he was challenged to list 30
positive reasons why he smoked, three
reasons to quit and specific ways to
replace the act of smoking. “I had to
be honest with myself,” the 52-year-old
senior energy manager says. “Why would
I want to continue to feel like I’m killing
myself and smell this way and have
bad breath? It just wasn’t rational. Once
I knew that, I could let it go.”
In the three years since, he’s never
had another cigarette. And he doesn’t
wake up in the middle of the night with
a racing heart. “I had to quit for myself,”
Bernar says. “I think that’s important;
really taking ownership of it. Cheating
with a cigarette is not about anybody
else. It’s about you.”
after a wakeup call
A smoker for 38 years, Pat Knecht hadtried to kick her habit more than a dozentimes.
“I tried gum, patches, laser, Zyban—everything short of duct tape across mymouth,” she says. At one point Knechtquit for an entire year with the help ofa nicotine patch, but then started workin an office where everyone smoked.
Socializing during smoke breaks led to
a puff, then a few cigarettes, and within
a week she was smoking up to a pack a
day. “I didn’t have a protective guard in
place for the urges, and I just crumbled.”
Worried about smoking’s impact,
Knecht scheduled a lung test; they were
deemed still clear. “Believe it or not,” she
says, “that was the wake-up call to quit.”
She signed on with QuitCore, an Alberta
Health Services program, in the faint hope
of finally finding a way out. She tracked
her smoking patterns as assigned (even
though she thought it a waste of time)
and discovered she usually lit up out
of habit rather than urgent need. “All of
a sudden I was starting to cut back on
my own, realizing some of those smokes
weren’t necessary,” she recalls. As she
was coming up on the program’s quit
day, when the entire class would be
challenged to butt out, she thought:
“Nobody’s going to tell me what to do,”
and quit the night before. That day,
Feb. 8, 2010, still stands as the last time
“I decided to take the choice seriously,”
Knecht says. “Previously I expected
the product to do it for me. This time,
I realized it’s the thinking process that’s
key. That flip in mindset made it so much
easier to quit.”
She read the QuitCore book front to
back and started paying careful attention
in class, collecting ideas and strategies
for a growing quit kit. Even so, she
recalls her first days without nicotine
But the rewards soon started stacking
up. “My blood pressure dropped immedi
AlbertaQuits.ca. An interactive Alberta Health Serviceswebsite where you can share stories and strategies, chatonline with experts, create an individualized quit plan,find community supports and track progress. Servicesinclude text messaging and email encouragement.
AlbertaQuits helpline. Call 1-866-710-QUIT (7848) toll-free
for information, counselling and referral, seven days
a week. Staffed by cessation counsellors who can talk
you through the tough times.
QuitCore. Free support groups offered by AHS in20 communities across Alberta, incorporating bestpractices for quitting. For current offerings, call780-422-1350 or toll-free 1-866-710-QUIT (7848) oremail email@example.com.
Smart Steps. A workplace stop-smoking support group
Smokers’ Helpline Online (SHO). This interactive,
program offered by The Lung Association, Alberta
and N W T. To inquire about bringing Smart Steps to
your workplace or to ask for quit-smoking resources,
contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call toll-free
web-based service from the Canadian Cancer Society
offers tips, tools and support for quitting smoking.
Your pharmacist. Many pharmacists are trained to
provide tobacco counselling and to answer questions
about stop-smoking aids and their interaction with
Your physician. Doctors are encouraged to treat tobaccouse as a chronic relapsing disease and to support patientsto quit using the “ 5 A” approach: ask, advise, assess,assist and arrange. Anyone taking medication for otherconditions should check with a doctor when quitting,as doses may need adjusting.
WHERE TO TURN FOR SUPPORT
Seeking support will greatly increase your chance of quitting tobacco for good. Here are some of the options in Alberta.