Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States and each year, nearly 70 percent of current smokers want to quit. So, why don't they? The answer is because quitting is not something that can be easily achieved alone; it's a fight best won with the support of friends and family.
In our recent campaign with DoSomething.org, we harnessed the power of young people to encourage the smokers in their lives to go tobacco-free by offering the support that's needed in the journey to successfully quit. We asked people to create heartfelt cards to encourage the current smokers in their lives to quit.
Through this campaign, I was inspired by so many messages from participants who were expressing their love and concern to the most important people in their lives who are smokers. In particular, Jackie Munoz, an 18-year-old from California, truly embodied what it means to support a loved one in their efforts to quit smoking. I spoke with her to learn more about why she chose a tobacco-free lifestyle and more:
1. EHB: What inspired you to become involved in CVS Health and DoSomething.org's "Quitters Always Win" campaign?
JM: My mom was my inspiration to join the campaign, which showed up in my life when I was really trying to help her quit smoking. When I saw everyone who had submitted a picture of their card, it inspired me to make a card that would give her the motivation she needed to take control of her health. I feel that sometimes when someone goes through a struggle like this; it can be nearly impossible to overcome it alone. That is what I noticed in my mom -- she felt very alone, like she was the only one trying to quit.
2. EHB: Why have you chosen to live tobacco-free?
JM: I grew up seeing both of my parents smoke and I have seen how it has negatively affected their health as well as the difficulties they faced while trying to quit. For instance, they would get anxious and upset as if they were cast under a spell and it became something they couldn't live without. I did not want the same for myself. Instead, it has motivated me to help my mom overcome her struggles.
3. EHB: What was your mom's reaction to the card that you made for her? How do you plan to keep her motivated while she tries to quit?
JM: When I gave my mom her card, she burst into tears. The card has pictures of her and me so it really touched her. She just kept hugging me, said she was sorry and told me this would be the year she would officially quit because she wants to continue having memories with our family. Smoking has really impacted her health in a negative way. She is diabetic so it added on to the list of her ongoing complications.
She has been doing a really good job since she quit and I try to keep her as distracted as possible. For example, another goal for her is to be healthier and to lose weight so we exercise, go for walks, or plan out better eating habits together to help control her diabetes. She also has seven grandchildren from my brothers and we live with three of them so they help a lot! We've been spending a lot more time together and they've been a really big motivation for her.
4. EHB: Do you think support systems like friends and family can play a role in helping someone to quit smoking?
JM: I do think that a support system like friends and family are very important because I've seen the effect it has when family members give up on someone who's struggling to quit, it only fuels their desire to continue smoking. It is a very hard fight and it cannot be done alone, especially if you've been a long-time smoker. My mom has been smoking since she was 14 and she is now 62 so it is not an easy habit to overcome. However, when smokers have their family or friends by their side, they feel like they can better tackle their addiction. It doesn't make quitting any easier but the support is a very big help. It is a slow process that requires a lot of patience.
5. EHB: What do you hope people will learn from the "Quitters Always Win" campaign?
JM: I hope people learn that we really need to be there for those who need our support and that it is a hard and long fight. We cannot give up on those who smoke because they are our loved ones -- our family and friends, who are our chosen family -- and we have to have the patience and strength to fight right along with them.
Less approximately 4-6 percent of those who attempt to quit smoking are actually successful and it takes a smoker on average 7-10 attempts at quitting before quitting for good. That's why we're committed to changing this statistic by providing current smokers with the resources and encouragement they need to quit for good. The goal of a tobacco-free future is in our sights if we encourage the smokers of today to quit and inspire our next generation to never start.
Throughout the month of January, CVS Health and DoSomething.org teamed up for "Quitters Always Win," a national campaign that asked young people to create heartfelt, handmade cards to encourage family, friends and neighbors who smoke to quit as their New Year's Resolution. More than 33,400 DoSomething.org members participated in the campaign and more than 4,000 cards supporting friends and loved ones were handed out.