Judy Hunt

"From Social Smoker to Secret Smoker"

Judy Hunt started smoking when she went away to college thirty years ago. “It was the 1970s, and smoking was what you did to fit in at parties or when you went out on the town with friends,” she explains. “I just smoked occasionally back then.” But by the time she quit smoking two years ago, the only place she smoked was in the privacy of her home. No one outside her immediate family knew she smoked.

So while she started out a social smoker, she eventually became a secret smoker. An occasional habit turned into a smoking addiction requiring up to two packs of cigarettes a day.
Judy’s life as a smoker mirrors the public’s changing attitudes about smoking during the past three decades. “When I started smoking, it was the thing to do,” she says. “By the time I quit, smoking wasn’t socially acceptable, and I was embarrassed about being a smoker.”

But Judy’s reasons for quitting were, ultimately, personal in nature. She wanted to quit for herself, not because of outside pressure. “I didn’t like the smell or the dirtiness. I didn’t like the constant smell of smoke in my house and on my clothes. It was also getting so expensive to smoke. A $40 carton of cigarettes didn’t even last me a week. The only thing I really liked about smoking was that it gave me something to do with my hands. “When I was ready to quit, I did it for myself, in my own way, which is why working with a Quit Coach appealed to me,” she says. “I’d tried to quit before, halfheartedly. But this time, it worked.”

Her biggest challenge along the way was dealing with urges, and finding something to do with her hands when she wanted a cigarette. The Quit Coaches gave
her concrete ideas for dealing with urges and triggers. “They also told me that the urge for a cigarette usually passes quite quickly—in five minutes or so—which was helpful to know.” Working at her computer was a trigger for smoking, so the Quit Coaches suggested leaving the computer to eat some carrot sticks or make a phone call—anything that would get her away from the computer until the urge passed.

Many people go for a walk when they have an urge for a cigarette, but Judy is confined to a wheelchair, so this wasn’t an option for her. Formerly a professional photographer, now she spends most of her days working on her computer at her Minneapolis home. Much of the work she does is in her capacity as president of the board of directors for the American Synringomyelia Alliance Project, an organization devoted to improving the lives of people with syringomyelia, the rare neurological spinal cord disorder Judy was diagnosed with 10 years ago.
“What I liked about the Quit Coaches was that I could call them when I wanted to, if I wanted to. The program was there for me to use in my own way. They called to check in with me once in a while and told me I could call them when and if I needed to. They gave me enough room to let me quit on my own or to get guidance when I needed it. And they gave me encouragement, which helped me. I didn’t get any support and encouragement from my friends, of course, because they didn’t know I smoked.”

Judy doesn’t even remember the exact date that she quit. “The date isn’t important to me. What’s important to me is the fact that I quit. My breathing is better now, and I can smell again. The smell of fresh air is wonderful.”

To get started Enroll Online or call 1-888-662-BLUE (2583). International participants must call 001-206-876-2703.