Chris Heltne's reason became apparent after climbing his apartment stairs about 20 years ago.
He had huffed and puffed his way to his third floor unit.
"I was out of breath when I used to be able to run up three flights of stairs without any problem," said Heltne, director of communications for Student Affairs. "So I decided to quit smoking."
Duke wants to help other employees embrace their motivation to quit so they can take advantage of resources to help them keep their New Year's resolutions to give up tobacco.
As part of the "Why I Want to Quit" campaign, Duke's LIVE FOR LIFE employee wellness program is asking faculty and staff to submit photos that represent why they want to quit using tobacco. Every employee who submits a photo will be entered into a drawing for a choice of a 30-minute chair massage or $300 LIVE FOR LIFE dollars.
"Some people just want to be healthier and feel better, others may want to quit because of a spouse or their children," said Julie Joyner, manager for LIVE FOR LIFE. "People have many reasons for wanting to quit, and we want to share those in hopes that it will inspire others to take the first step to quitting, too."
Joyner said that studies suggest that 70 percent of tobacco users want to quit and that it takes most several attempts to do so.
That was the case with Heltne, who said his first attempt was inspired by Christian Laettner's last-second jump shot in the 1992 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament that sent Duke to the finals where they won their second national championship.
"I was watching the game, and I said, 'I will quit smoking if they make this shot,'" Heltne said.
Laettner hit the shot, and Heltne walked outside to have one last celebratory smoke. He quit cold turkey, but a few months later, he started smoking again.
"It takes most people several times trying to quit before they are successful," Joyner said. "But we always tell people that those aren't failures because they learn something each time. We know that a lot of people set New Year's resolutions to quit, and we want to help them achieve those resolutions."
Eligible faculty, staff and dependents can find help kicking the habit through LIVE FOR LIFE's QuitSmart program. The program helps participants gain the skills needed to break free from tobacco. The four-class program begins Jan. 17 and is offered at no charge to participants. Classes are 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Duke Credit Union in the second floor conference room in Erwin Square.
For more information or to register, visit the Duke Human Resources website.