Antoine Arsenault started experimenting with smoking at 14 years old. By 16, he was smoking regularly and by age 67, and he was smoking a whopping 3 packs per day! Working night shift, he would chain-smoke to keep busy and stay awake. This had become a very expensive addiction that was costing him upwards of $60 per day and over $1000 per month! At this point he was the only person in his immediate family who smoked. No one wanted him to smoke in their homes and he felt like a criminal if he tried to smoke anywhere in public. One day, a family member referred him to the cessation clinic at the Vitalité Health Network. This would prove to be a turning point in his journey to living tobacco-free.

Creating A Quit Plan

After meeting one-on-one with Vitalité’s cessation nurse specialist, Antoine learned about the many health benefits of quitting smoking. He was asked to share the number of cigarettes he was smoking daily and reviewed cessation support options such as medications, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), and an inhaler. By December 2022, Antoine had developed a course of action to quit.  His plan included taking Champix, wearing nicotine patches and using an inhaler when necessary. After 3 weeks, he stopped taking Champix and relied solely on nicotine patches along with the inhaler.

Challenging Moments

Antoine admits there has been challenges for him and he has had to make adjustments in his quit plan. He didn’t like the medication’s side effects for example, but appreciated how it helped him to avoid smoking in the beginning weeks of his quit journey. He credits the medication for helping him stay tobacco-free in the first few weeks of quitting but then chose to focus completely on NRT. As his body adjusted to lower nicotine doses, he was able to transition to using NRT every other day.

Tips for Success

“You have to want to stop first and foremost” emphasizes Antoine, when discussing the importance of overcoming cravings and life’s ongoing stressors. He suggests committing to the process by “throwing all your cigarettes away”, which helps to prevent triggers and relapses. Antoine recommends identifying your own triggers to better cope with moments of vulnerability to smoking.  For instance, when he purchased his new truck, he committed to making it a smoke-free zone, and realized that visiting garages triggered him as many staff members smoked openly on breaks. It’s crucial to consider these factors when preparing to face triggers and temptations. Avoiding situations that could negatively impact your smoke-free commitment is one way to support your new lifestyle.  Antoine also reinforced his positive changes by using the money saved from not smoking to purchase a ‘prize’ – a brand new truck, which serves as a reward for his new habits and choices.

Use All the Resources

Antoine advises exploring all the resources and cessation options available when deciding to live tobacco-free. Meet with specialists for guidance on how to remain smoke-free, while adjusting methods as needed.  As Antoine says, “If I can quit – anyone can!”

Photos and story used with permission.

Published in June 2023.

Written by Kristin Farnam, NBATC Manager.