“I could literally have owned my home by now.”

Smoked for 15 years, Tobacco-free for 20 years
20 Years Tobacco-free
Press play to hear Carter's quitting story

In Their Own Words...

My Story

“Growing up in Kentucky, smoking was just all around us all the time. My grandparents were tobacco farmers, on my father’s side. All of my aunts and uncles on both sides pretty much smoked. It was, you know, around us all the time.

So, the first time I remember having a cigarette was, I was 18 years old. And my older brother and his friends were having a cigarette, and I decided I must partake as well. Then I remember immediately getting sick, at the time. But I wasn’t a quitter, so I stuck with it then. And by the time I was in college, I was a full-time smoker.

I was in music and theatre, so it was, smoking was part of the culture too, in the entertainment industry, back then. It was very, I think, glamorized. You know, I mean, something that I really kind of did enjoy. I liked the culture. You know, that was just the norm. I would go to rehearsal, I would have my cigarette when I wake up, you have one after every meal. You know, every break you could get. And so, you know, that was my stress release. That was a way that you could unwind. And if I didn’t, I remember just being irritable, upset, agitated, until you know, I was like, 'I need to get this.' And that was my routine for a while. I mean I was never without them.

One thing that made me kind of rethink it was my uncle was diagnosed with lung cancer. And he was gone within six weeks. After my uncle Tim passed away, my grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer as well. And same thing. Six weeks. All the males on my mom’s side of the family were gone within, you know, a two/three-year period. It was really frightening. I can hear that kind of cough, you know, that rattle. And that was heartbreaking. Heartbreaking seeing somebody that I love just waste away in such a short amount of time.

Watching my mother kind of take care of him was really hard. It wasn’t fun anymore. It wasn’t the cool thing to do anymore, and I kind of had a heart-to-heart talk with my mother, just really wanting to commit to overall health for everybody in our family. And that really stuck. I really respected that.

I started to cut back a little at a time. Obviously the first several months was very challenging. And then it started to happen. Like one day turned to two, and then the two days turn into a week, and then it was the further I got away from it, you know the smoke was definitely clearing. And I was able to kind of transition a lot of that creative energy into a lot of my passions that I still love to do. And my performing became better. My singing became better at the time.

When I think about the amount of money that I spent on packs and cartons and cartons of cigarettes, you know. And I’m like, 'I could literally have owned my home by now.'

Having a resource like this is remarkable. That you have a place where you can go to talk to people. Professional people, and also people with their own testimonies. And I think having something like that is life changing.

I think the thing that I would tell people is to never be afraid to ask for help. I regret feeling like I had to do things on my own. Because there’s a certain amount of shame attached to it, you know. There are people that will help you, and they’ll listen, and they’ll help you get through the tough times when you want to fall back. If you’re just willing to take a step and reach out, then I think that you will have success. Absolutely.”

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