After Kira Williams spotted a mysterious mole on her right shoulder, she visited a doctor, who diagnosed the mark as benign.
The health scare was the motivation she used to change her habits.
Williams, who smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for nearly 40 years, quit smoking soon after receiving the test results. She smoked her last cigarette on Aug. 18.
“I pretty much accepted that I would smoke the rest of my life,” said Williams, a pediatric nursing care assistant who started smoking when she was 13. “I never thought I would stop.”
Williams has another reason to celebrate: She’ll be tobacco free for the first time on Nov. 16, for the Great American Smokeout, which encourages people to make a quit plan or prepare in advance to stop smoking. About 36.5 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, and tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the world, according to the American Cancer Society.
From Nov. 13-16, staff from LIVE FOR LIFE, Duke’s employee wellness program, will travel around the university and health system campus to promote tobacco cessation and support programs. At various locations, staff will set up corn hole, test carbon monoxide levels and hand out resources to help Duke students and employees quit smoking. The schedule is as follows:
All day Nov. 13 at Duke Regional Hospital, Duke Raleigh Hospital, Duke University School of Nursing and Patient Revenue Management Organization
Lunchtime Nov. 14 at East Campus Marketplace and Brodhead Center
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 15 at Cancer Center Lobby and Duke University Hospital’s front bus stop
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nov. 16 at Duke University Hospital’s front bus stop
Diane Dunder, LIVE FOR LIFE’s smoking cessation specialist, said the most successful way for a smoker to quit is to set up a plan and to have an end date in mind.
“Most smokers have some interest in quitting and most have tried to quit,” she said. “You have to build off that because quitting is really hard. “A lot of my job is picking people up, dusting them off and getting another quitting attempt under their belt.”
Participants who want to use the Great American Smokeout as the first step to quit can access Duke’s tobacco cessation resources, including nicotine replacement therapy and a free one-on-one consultation to form a quit plan.
Williams, the pediatric nursing care assistant, got in touch with Dunder after telling her doctor she wanted to quit smoking. Dunder encouraged Williams to find alternative ways to fill her breaks, like going on a walk and doing breathing exercises. Williams now uses the $50 she previously paid for the Duke medical insurance tobacco surcharge for a gym membership.
“I feel less tired and a lot happier,” Williams said.