77-year-old Veteran who smoked for 55 years quits


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Veteran John Crawford

Veteran John Crawford

A smoker for 55 years, John Crawford didn’t start feeling the effects of the habit until age 77– about six months ago. With an increase in shortness of breath and a nagging cough, Crawford remembered his primary care physician telling him about a smoking cessation class at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, S.C.

“I couldn’t even go to the mailbox and back without stopping to catch my breath. It was that bad,” said Crawford. “The severe ‘smoker’s cough’ and shortness of breath scared me. I had never tried to quit. I thought I was immune to smoking problems.”

Crawford began attending the smoking cessation class at the medical center each Tuesday. He is proud to say that he is now six months smoke-free and that he found support through the education and classmates who shared Tuesday afternoons with him, as pictured in the photo above.

The classes are led by Kathy McCormick, substance abuse coordinator. She offers reminders on the hazards of smoking as well as information on various medical aids that are available to assist in kicking the habit.

“Mr. Crawford came to smoking cessation with the belief that he was giving up his best friend,” said McCormick.  “As he shared and listened to others in the group, he came to believe that this was something he could do and wanted to do.   The smoking cessation group was designed to decrease barriers for Veterans wanting to quit smoking.   The group is an open door group where Veterans are provided with education, motivation and rewards for their progress.”

After just two weeks in the program Crawford was already realizing the positive effects of being smoke free. A family trip to the Brookgreen Gardens required a substantial amount of walking to get around and view the art, history and zoo. Crawford was surprised to find that his breathing and cough were already improving and he was able to enjoy that time with his family.

“I have found the whole experience of quitting to be much easier than I anticipated,” said Crawford. “I am getting support from my family and classmates and my health has already improved significantly.”

Quit smoking chart

Click here for additional resources available to Veterans who want to quit smoking.

Author

Erin Curran

Erin Curran is public affairs specialist at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, South Carolina. She has been with the VA for three and a half years and is passionate about sharing Veterans’ stories that highlight the strength of these national heroes.

Comments

  1. Perry    

    Well done! Congratulations to this man on giving up smoking. I know from experience how tough it can be, but I also know that I have never been healthier since I gave up. I can walk and run, and even go to the gym now when before that was impossible. And another great thing is the money I save – I can afford treats and new clothes when before I was spending all my spare cash on cigarettes. This site has some good info I used when I was thinking about quitting: http://www.cancer.org/healthy/stayawayfromtobacco/guidetoquittingsmoking/guide-to-quitting-smoking-toc

  2. Jean hogan    

    Will there be some new programs at our VA hospital in Danville, ILL?

  3. phillip9555@gmail.com    

    Great job ……… great job

  4. BJ Crawford    

    I am 63. I quit smoking 3 months ago after smoking for 49 years. Quit cold turkey. I had nicorette gum and e cigs during earlier attempts but decided not to use them this time. Worked out better for me.

  5. Jerry Coffey    

    I’m right behind you, John. Quit smoking May, 2014 after smoking for 50 years and a second occurrence of renal cell carcinoma. The toughest thing I’ve ever had to do. You have accomplished a difficult task but, then again, you’re a vet!

  6. John Louis Farrell    

    I quit smoking through the VA (with Patches) 5 or 6 years ago myself. (I’ll be 80 in January.) I was in the VA hospital for a clearing out my veins or arteries in my legs when the doctor decided the operation was above his capabilities. I had to stay overnight because I had been given sedatives or something so I couldn’t drive home.
    In the morning as the doctor was doing his rounds about 6 or 7 of them came in together and one lady doctor (I presume) asked me if I wanted to quit smoking. I told her I did, but the VA would only give me the “patches” if I would sign up for their full program. I told her I did not want to do that so they, the VA, would not give me the “patches.” She said I will get them for you. I used the “patches” and haven’t had a cigarette since.
    It was my understanding that the VA had a higher percentage of non-recidivism with their program and didn’t want to change the odds by giving “patches” to anyone except those who went through their program. I must have asked 4 or 5 times for “patches” before this, but they said they couldn’t do it unless I went through their program.

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