Smoke Free and Loving It – One Person’s Triumph Over Tobacco

18 January 2011

Charlottetown -

It was first thing she did every morning and the last thing she did at night. For over 30 years Valerie Warren loved her cigarettes and smoked well over a pack a day. But that’s all behind her now.  On August 9th, 2010, Valerie Warren quit smoking.  “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” says Warren, “I’ve never felt better, physically and I am much calmer now.  I always felt stressed because I was constantly thinking about having that next cigarette.  I don’t have any of that anymore and it basically makes you feel like you’re free.”

This wasn’t Warren’s first attempt at quitting smoking.  The 44 year old Milton woman had tried numerous times but it never lasted for long.   Warren certainly knew smoking wasn’t good for her.  As an Administrative Assistant with Health PEI she repeatedly heard the message about the impact of tobacco on your body.   It took a plea from one of her sons for her to commit to making a change.   “When my oldest son was moving to Alberta, he said, ‘Mom I really wish you would stop smoking.’ I promised him then and there I would do it.” 

Warren began by researching ways of quitting. “I think education is the key.  It is an addiction, just as much as any other addiction and you have to learn how to deal with that.”   Warren found her best support on-line at SMOKERSHELPLINE.CA.  

Smokers’ Helpline is a free service offered by the Canadian Cancer Society.  It works with individuals to develop plans for quitting and helps them through every step of the process.

“Smokers’ Helpline has been a huge role in my quitting smoking.  I get on there every day, whether I participate in conversations or  I just read, it helps me to stay motivated because I see people on there  that are going through the exact same struggle that I am going through. And they have different ways of dealing with it and it helps me to deal with it too,”   says Warren.      

Charlottetown Physician Dr. Ed White is a strong supporter of Smokers’ Helpline. He often recommends it to his patients. “Quitting smoking is a huge change in a person’s life and they need lots of support.  Smokers who use things like Nicotine Replacement products are more successful when they do this in combination with counseling such as Smokers’ Helpline. It's a real benefit in your battle to get off cigarettes.”         

Warren finds the most difficult part of the challenge is learning to deal with things in a different way.  She has developed numerous strategies to break the habit of reaching for a cigarette.  “I always have something like sunflower seeds to nibble on. And I have changed old routines that always went hand in hand with smoking. Now I have to learn different ways to deal with that.  So it’s mainly going for a walk or distracting myself from it.”

Each time Warren signs on to she is reminded of how much she has achieved.  Based on her previous habit, a quit meter keeps tracks of the number of cigarettes she has not smoked – more than 4,000.  It also reminds her that she has saved close to $1,700.00 since August.   Those are strong motivators, but Warren says it’s the improvements to her health that are even better.   “I feel so good. I’ve always exercised but now I can exercise and I don’t get out of breath. I don’t feel all choked up anymore. ”

Warren is understandably proud of what she has accomplished but she is sharing her story because she wants to let others know that they can do this too.  Every day she reads stories on the Smokers’ Helpline website about people who are overcoming their struggle with tobacco.   While her road to being tobacco-free has had its challenges, Warren wants to convince others it’s worth the effort.  “What I say to people is that YOU CAN DO IT.  You may not think you can quit, you might be scared, but you can do it. You definitely can do it.” 

Information about Smokers’ Helpline can be found on-line at or by calling the toll-free line 1-877-513-5333.  The Canadian Cancer Society provides information at

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

Lori Barker

Executive Director

Phone: 902-566-4007