(Opinion) Melanie Cyphers: Who do you quit…


Statistics are not usually the main motivator when people quit smoking, chewing, or vaping. However, quitting for someone or something they care about may be.

We all know smoking and chewing can cause cancer, damage to the heart and/or lungs, and even early death, and we are discovering that vaping may cause a slew of harmful health effects in young people. But this knowledge alone usually is not as effective in encouraging a lifestyle change as the stories behind those statistics.

With 1 out of 7 Weld County residents using tobacco products, according to 2019 Weld County Community Health Survey data, Weld County Tobacco Control Program staff members recently asked several Weld County individuals why they quit using tobacco products. Here is what they said:


“My relationship with tobacco began my freshman year of high school. I began to occasionally chew tobacco with some friends. After a couple years, I started to smoke and chew. This continued and increased when I joined the military. I decided to quit tobacco when I returned home from my second deployment. I realized how unhealthy and expensive these habits were, so I wanted to make a change for myself to be happier and healthier.”


“I started chewing tobacco right out of high school. I chewed half a can a day for 42 years. I quit five or six times, but it never lasted. My wife and mom were always on me to quit. It started getting expensive, and I developed a constant headache and white lesions on my gums. That got my attention. I also didn’t want my granddaughter to grow up watching me with that crud on my face! I finally quit for good in 2021.”


“I started smoking at 17 at parties with friends. Everyone did it. I tried quitting many times. Once I quit for two years, before starting again. For years my daughter nagged me to quit. That didn’t motivate me, but then I had grandsons! One has asthma. I didn’t want them to start the same habit, and I especially didn’t want them to get sick because of me. I smoked for more than 30 years, but I finally quit for myself and my grandchildren!”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tobacco use is attributed to more than 480,000 deaths per year — including 41,000 deaths from secondhand smoke exposure — making it the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Tobacco not only affects the physical, emotional, and mental health of the tobacco user, but also that of everyone around them: children, grandparents, friends, and even strangers.

The truth is, quitting nicotine is hard, but it’s not impossible. No matter your age, health condition, or situation, it is never too late to quit.

If you are interested in quitting smoking, chewing, or vaping, the Weld County Tobacco Control Program encourages you to ask yourself, “Who do you quit for?”

For free help, call the Colorado Quitline at 1-800-QUITNOW or go to www.weldgov.com/go/quitnicotine for more information on how you can start your quit journey. Local tobacco cessation support groups will be forming this summer, as well.

Please call (970) 400-2383 if you would like to join us.

— Melanie Cyphers supervises the Weld County Tobacco Control Program at the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment.

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