Tobacco Intervention: A Personal Story From Our Course

From time-to-time throughout this past school year, educators who are taking the Florida Statewide Tobacco Prevention and Intervention course have shared with us their stories about tobacco use and how it has personally affected them.   After completing the course, one of our participants used the information he learned, and as a result his family member gave up tobacco.  Here is his story:

My son-in-law is a GREAT man with a BIG heart.  He was raised in a home where everyone smoked. In his house, there were five adult smokers and him.  At the age of thirteen, imitating his surrounding, he decided to smoke, about two packs per day.   Now he is twenty-five and still smoking the same.

When I started taking this class, I learned more and more about the consequences of tobacco addiction.  I felt terrified thinking that my daughter, one day, will raise her future family with a potential victim of tobacco and tobacco products.  I learned in this program that criticizing the smoker was not the best strategy, but, sharing information with LOVE will help them to quit. So, I started my mission!

Night by night, I shared with my family (wife, daughter and him), the videos and information that I was learning in this course.  We had many family talks, based on volunteer participation, related to tobacco addiction and its consequences in human health.  We calculated the expenditures that he was having related to the buying of tobacco and other tobacco products. We talked about what else he could do with that money, etc.

Several days later he decided to stop smoking.  We got him the nicotine gum and patches, and we kept him busy the whole day. Since he and my daughter were on vacation, they moved to my house for a period of two weeks.  During those days my family took turns being close to him without him being able to notice that we were with him at all times.

What can I tell you about the withdraw symptoms!  One morning, I think it was on day number ten since he stopped smoking, he got into an argument with my daughter.  It was their first argument in four years since they got married.  He was violent, talking loud to her, he who always has been the best person ever that I knew.  I knew since the first moment that he was going through withdraw symptoms.  Then, he opened the door of my house and ran away, barefoot, only with a pair of shorts on.  He ran and ran, going in different directions.  When I saw him, I ran after him.  I ran about 10 blocks as I followed him.

When I was able to catch up to him, I kept walking with him without saying a word.  Ten minutes later when he stopped,  I was exhausted ( I am a 58 years old guy , out of shape).  He looked at me and he hugged me for about five minutes and we both stated crying.  We both knew that we were victims of the same issue, he as the smoker and I as another victim of tobacco fighting again his addiction to smoke.  When we returned back to home, my family didn’t mention a word about that issue. That was just a pass.  Our goal is to save him.

Today, he is back at his own home where he lives with my daughter.  This is day 16 since he stopped smoking.  Last weekend he visited his family (the ones who smoke) and my daughter told me he didn’t want to be in that place where everyone was smoking.  They left the house three minutes later.

We hope he will keep himself smoke free forever, but we know that our battle just has started now.  As you can see, this program has helped me not only to be armed with the best tools to fight against the addiction to tobacco, but also to be able to help others to quit.

Thank you, E.H. for sharing your story.  And good luck to your son-in-law in remaining tobacco free.

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