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Ernest Smith being awarded for being smoke free.

Sometimes "it runs in the family" is not a good thing. When it comes to bad habits that are passed down, family is not always your friend. Ernest Smith knows this firsthand.

Smith was raised in a family of smokers. He decided that since everyone else smoked, it was only natural for him to do so, too. He never liked cigarettes, but eventually, after smoking for a while, they became his crutch and best friend. Throughout his tenure of smoking, he noticed his health was declining. "I knew something was bad because my cholesterol was high and I started having chest pain," said Smith.

After four years, he knew he needed to quit so he tried the gamut of smoking cessation strategies. From nicotine patches, nicotine chewing gum, and a 12-step program - nothing worked for him. Eventually, he called the 1-800-QUIT-NOW helpline and they gave him the phone number to the Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Program at University of Maryland Prince George';s Hospital Center.

Program Success

After enrolling, Smith started the program. One tool he recalls being most helpful is the literature. "Having the knowledge about smoking and what it does to the body gave me ammunition to fight the addiction," he said. "Once I started seeing commercials about what happens if you continue smoking, I woke up one day and said to myself, 'This is it.'" Smith hasn't smoked since.

Prayer is one of the most important tools that helped him become smoke free. When he gets a craving, he prays to God for strength.

Hope for the Future

Since quitting, Smith has experienced a decrease in his cholesterol levels, relief from shortness of breath, and he now works out at the gym 3 to 4 times per week. He advises smokers to never give up and know that quitting is possible - if he can do it, so can anyone.

University of Maryland Capital Region wants you to be smoke free too! Learn more about the Tobacco Use Prevention and Cessation Program at UM Prince George's Hospital Center.