Welcome to Meet the Quitters, a series sharing the challenges, victories and tips from real world quit journeys. This month, the Quit Culture team spoke with Ganene Clark about her introduction to Black and Mild cigars, her motivation for quitting and what advice she has for other Quitters looking to kick the habit.
When did you start smoking?
I first started smoking when I was 14. When I got pregnant with my daughter at 19, I stopped smoking cigarettes, but I picked up Black and Milds after having her. I’ve been smoking off and on since I was 19—that’s almost 23 years. However, I stopped with each pregnancy that I had. So, if you take out the nine months or so after that, I’d say I’ve been smoking for about 20 years.
How did you connect with Quit Culture?
I found Quit Culture while scrolling through Facebook. It was a suggestion that popped up on my feed and I clicked on it and started to explore the page a bit more. I said, “That’s probably something I want to do.” I put my information in and started observing the prompts and tips from the 30-day Smoke Break Challenge. I looked at it almost daily from there.
What motivated you to want to quit smoking?
I want to be able to do activities with my grandkids and I noticed when I’m walking them down the street in their wagon, I start to get winded. I’m like, “Hold on, why am I getting winded? I’m not that old!” I realized this was happening because I smoke and I’m overweight.
Those two things and being African American don’t mix. It leads to a lot of health problems: heart disease, heart attacks, blood clots, all types of things. Those health issues also run in my family, so I quit to better my health and hopefully prolong my life.
What impact do you think tobacco has on the community?
As far as what I see in my neighborhood, there are a lot of kids walking around smoking Blacks and blunts. And I feel like I can’t tell them not to smoke when, here I am, smoking too. So, that’s why I want to get myself together and be an example. It’s hard because tobacco products are everywhere, especially in advertisements. You can’t cut the ads because they make millions. So, it’s there. At the corner stores, all of that.
What advice do you have for other smokers?
Don’t stop. Don’t ever give up. Just take it one second at a time. If you try to do anything more than that, you might feel like a failure when you don’t achieve your goal. That was my problem at first. I couldn’t even do it for one day. You can even break that down a bit more. How about one second? Give yourself two minutes. Five minutes. Those little increments. Don’t be too hard on yourself. It took you however long you’ve been smoking to do it, so it may take you however long to stop. Just don’t give up.
If you’re interested in hearing more about Ganene’s journey, check out her guest appearance on our video series Smoke Break. If you would like more support to stop smoking, join our private Facebook Community and check out the Smoke Break Challenge.