Feb 122003
Authors: Linda Lechler

Rebecca Kay is not the average college student. It’s not the fact that she’s a 28-year-old senior that distinguishes her from the mainstream, but the fact that she is overcoming a 14-year addiction to tobacco.

“Quitting (smoking) is like losing your security blanket and best friend in one swoop,” Kay said.

Quitting cigarettes was especially hard because she had to redefine her identity and completely change her lifestyle, she said.

“(Smoking) affects so many aspects of your life you aren’t even aware of,” Kay said.

When Kay decided to quit smoking on Dec. 23, she sought the help of CSU tobacco cessation counselor Gwen Sieving and went on the patch.

“Rebecca has a remarkable story to tell,” Sieving said.

For Kay, it was a matter of making herself quit.

“Everything just came together at once,” Kay said. “You just have to make up your mind. It has to be all the way through you and you can’t be on the fence.”

Once someone has decided to quit, the most important thing is to find support, Kay said.

“It helps to know we’re not alone and that we’re not crazy,” she added.

She said that QuitNet, a free online forum for smokers who want to quit, has been one of the most helpful resources.

“It’s nice to know that there are people out there going through the exact same thing,” Kay said.

QuitNet offers a discussion forum, as well as a tally to show how much money a person has saved by not smoking and how many cigarettes he or she has not smoked since quitting.

“I saved over $120 in a month and (have saved myself from) over 600 cigarettes,” Kay said.

The first couple of weeks after quitting were the hardest, she said.

“I was an emotional roller coaster from hell,” Kay said.

But now that she has been tobacco-free for over a month, she said she does not have really bad cravings like she used to have, although she sometimes has to stop and remind herself she does not smoke anymore.

Now that Kay has quit smoking, she said she urges others to kick the habit, but realizes it is ultimately an individual choice.

Kay said that quitting is hard, but people should realize that smoking does not fix their problems, whatever they are. Smoking does not make anything go away, it is how you deal with the problem, she said.

Although she said she does not get bad cravings anymore, when she gets the urge to light up she tells herself that smoking a cigarette will help right now, but it’s going to make tomorrow harder. She said she needs to just get through today so that tomorrow will be easier.

“Kay’s smoke-free future looks very promising, said Sean Ferguson, Kay’s boyfriend. “It looks good so far. She doesn’t really talk about it all that much anymore and I think the worst of it is over by now.”

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