Tobacco-free

Hennepin County buildings are tobacco-free.  Are you ready to quit using tobacco? Here are the resources to help!

Employees, covered dependents and retirees can:

  • Make an appointment to visit with a medical practitioner at the Be Well Clinic (tobacco cessation aids are available)
  • Receive one-on-one help from a health coach to discover a personalized path to quitting
    • Three sessions with a health coach qualifies as one credit towards the health insurance incentive
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Employee quitting stories

Kirk, security, smoke-free for more than 25 years

Where I was

I was a three-pack-a-day smoker. I used to wake up in the middle of the night every night to smoke. Pretty insane, right? After waking up in the morning I would light up my first cigarette and I would have to cough it down. After the first one I could smoke okay the rest of the day.

What I did

I went to my doctor for a physical and she saw the pack if cigs in my pocket and asked me how much I smoked. I told her three packs a day, and she asked if I could cut back to a pack per day. I thought about it for a bit and realized that I just needed to quit altogether. It's an insane habit and I felt it would be best to quit before I was told I had to because they saw something on a chest X-ray.

My doctor suspected I would have a hard time quitting so she gave me a year's prescription for Nicorette gum. She told me to chew a piece when I wanted to smoke so bad I couldn't stand it. Later that day I got the prescription filled and set my quit date. I went to the Southdale library and started reading up on what smoking does to your body and I became totally turned off just from what I read. I wanted to quit right then, but I stuck to my quit date. From then on every cigarette no longer had the same feeling. I had enough.

On the quit day I just stopped cold turkey. I remember what my doctor told me about the gum. That feeling didn’t come and I didn’t use the gum. Later that day I started having withdrawal symptoms from the nicotine. I was very ill and could barely drive home. I called the doctor and she told me to chew the gum. I basically told her I was going to kick this once and for all and wasn't going to drag it out by chewing the gum.

A day later I was free of it and I haven't smoked since.

Where I am

I have been totally smoke free since 1986! My quality of life has improved significantly. I blow money on fun things like fitness, not supporting a bad habit that was going to eventually kill me. I try to share my success with others in the hope the they can have the quality of life I have, free from smoking.

The smoking story is also very personal to me in that I lost my mother from smoking two years ago. She had COPD and emphysema caused by smoking. What killed her was cancer cells that started in another part of her body and made their way to her stomach and liver. She died seven days after she found out she had cancer. The doctor told me there was no doubt in his mind it was caused by smoking.

Advice

  • It's pretty simple: Quit now.
    Even though I quit 25 years ago, my doctor still looks for lung cancer every time I get an upper respiratory infection. 
  • Read up on what smoking does to you.
  • Reach out to those who have quit and find out what worked for them.
  • Don't be afraid to set a quit date and when you do, tell everyone so the pressure to succeed is on.
  • Don't set yourself up to fail by exposing yourself to situations around smoking.
  • If you do fail, don't beat yourself up. Set another date and try again.
  • Exercise. Do cardio.
    It won't be long before you figure out that smoking and cardio don't mix well. 

I am open to talking to anyone who is serious about quitting. Support is everything if you want to quit for good. You can do it!

Joan, Medical Examiner's Office

Where I was

I had been smoking for 30 years, but noticed I was missing out on things because it was hard to fit smoking into the plan.

Over time, it was getting inconvenient to be a smoker. For example, Disney parks went entirely non-smoking and I didn't want to pay that huge admission fee and not be able to smoke. At restaurants, I just wanted to eat, then get out — no lingering because I couldn't smoke.

What I did

I saw Gail at the Be Well clinic and got a Chantix prescription. I used the online tools to help motivate me.

I also opened a new bank account and direct-deposited my cigarette money into that account. After several months, I had enough money to do something I always wanted to do, but couldn't (because the flight was too long!): I spent my cigarette money on a 14-day cruise from Barcelona, through Italy and Croatia.

Where I am

Still not smoking after 16 months! I still think about it, but not so much. When I smoked, I could never smell the smoke on people's clothes, but now I can — I used to think I was "sneaking out" and that no one knew. I'm still saving my money for my next trip!

Advice

You have to want to quit for you — not anyone else. Put your money aside to buy something that you want — it's found money and you'll be surprised how much it adds up!

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