Renee started smoking cigarettes when she was 16. Now, 56, she has finally kicked the habit. “I just want to shout it out to the world: ‘Hey! I’m a non-smoker!’” she laughed. Renee says she finally won the battle thanks to God, her own willpower, and the help of the St. Vincent de Paul Charitable Pharmacy.
Renee had determined it was time to quit smoking — she had tried a few times before, unsuccessfully. The average tobacco user will try to quit 6 times before achieving success. “This time, I wanted to stop.” Renee had asked the pharmacist at the Charitable Pharmacy if they had anything to help her quit. That question could not have come at a better time. It just so happened the pharmacy’s first Tobacco Cessation Program had just started.
Renee received nicotine gum and received phone call checkups from staff and volunteers at the pharmacy. “They were a great help with calling, you know, that really does help.”
Rusty Currington, Pharmacy Manager at the Charitable Pharmacy says “Our tobacco cessation program is unique because we provide free nicotine replacement therapy with face-to-face counseling once monthly. Then, our pharmacy interns call the patients pursuing nicotine-free status weekly to check-in on their successes and struggles. We offer additional counsel-ing over the phone at these weekly checkpoints.”
Currently, 90 patients are enrolled in the program between both the Charitable Pharmacy and the Good Samaritan Free Health Center.
“We have seen a 40% success rate among those who have finished the program,” says Currington, “which is higher than the average success rate for tobacco cessation programs.”
While using tobacco, Renee sometimes had trouble catching her breath. She couldn’t exercise and she had coughing fits every day. It was also expensive. Her habit cost her about $7.75 a day.
Now, 3 months after quitting, she has saved $650 in cigarette costs, can breathe easier, and is working out at least twice a week. “I can do that now,” she said. “It’s a beautiful feeling.” With cigarettes out of her life, Renee now has a whole new world before her.
“I’ve always wanted to do a little mini-marathon …. I think if I continue to work out, that’s a goal for me.”