“I thought the cigarette was stronger
than me,” recalled Westbury resident
Eleanor Boyd, who, after a 39-yearlong
battle with cigarettes, overcame
her nicotine addiction, thanks to her
strong will and the help of
Tobacco Cessation Program.
A smoker since her high school
years, Ms. Boyd attempted to quit
multiple times throughout her life
with no success.
“I went through the motions of
quitting, but when the cravings
came back, I didn’t have the tools
or the knowledge to deal with
those urges, so I just gave into
them again,” Ms. Boyd said. “This
became a consistent pattern over
the course of my life.”
But after watching a close
family member undergo difficult
treatments for pancreatic cancer,
and feeling the damage that cigarettes
had already done to her own
body, Ms. Boyd desperately wanted
a healthier lifestyle.
A flyer with information about
Winthrop’s Tobacco Cessation Program
– a free, four week program that utilizes
various techniques including
behavior modification, nicotine replacement
therapy and oral medications to
help participants quit – arrived at Ms.
Boyd’s home at just the right time.
“Our multidisciplinary staff, comprised
of doctors, nurses, respiratory
therapists and physical therapists, is
sensitive to the many difficulties people
face when they decide to stop
smoking,” said Peter Spiegler, MD,
Director of the Medical Intensive
Care Unit and Medical Director of the
Tobacco Cessation Program. “Knowing
that no single approach works for
everyone, our staff works hard to
ensure that each participant receives
personalized, professional support.”
Upon meeting Mara Bernstein,
LRT, Administrative Director of
Pulmonary Outpatient Services at
Winthrop, who moderates the program,
Ms. Boyd immediately knew she found
the help she had been searching for.
“This program was the right fit for me
because I knew that if I could feel just
a little freedom from nicotine, I was
going to hold on to it,” she said.
Mara Bernstein, LRT, Administrative Director of
Pulmonary Outpatient Services at Winthrop (left) and
Peter Spiegler, MD, Director of the Medical Intensive
Care Unit and Medical Director of the Tobacco Cessation
Program at Winthrop (right) join Eleanor Boyd (center)
who quit smoking cigarettes with the help of Winthrop’s
Tobacco Cessation Program.
“The goal of the first week is to
help participants take an active role
in understanding why and how much
they smoke, as well as their reasons
for wanting to quit. I also discuss the
financial and health costs of smoking,”
explained Ms. Bernstein. She asks
participants to fill out a survey indicating
their smoking habits to
determine what kind of smoker they
are, and encourages them to keep a
“Pack Track” – a log of when, why,
who they are with and how they feel
while smoking, to better understand
what triggers them to smoke.
Ms. Bernstein analyzes the information
from the survey and the “Pack
Track” during the second session and
works with participants to develop
behavior modification plans to help
them gradually quit smoking.
Participants are asked to abstain from
smoking for a certain number of hours
per day in order to slowly start
weaning themselves off cigarettes.
The third week is the target
quit week. Ms. Bernstein emphasizes
techniques to fight urges to
smoke, and participants are
encouraged to use nicotine replacement
therapy or prescribed oral
medications, if needed.
Ms. Bernstein also sets up a
buddy system so that participants
can help each other stay smokefree,
which encouraged Ms. Boyd
to stay focused on her goal. “I
was really proud of the people
around me who quit, and I wanted
to be a part of that,” she said.
The final meeting offers continued
support and education. “We
discuss how to maintain a smoke-free
lifestyle, and I encourage
participants to share any difficulties
they are having,” said Ms.
Ms. Boyd gradually cut down on
cigarettes until the fourth week. After
that, a combination of prescribed
medication and behavior modification
techniques enabled her to finally quit.
“Quitting wasn’t an easy task,
but I was ready to face it using what
I learned in the program. Although
I had tried medication before, it
didn’t work for me until I had an
understanding of how to break my
addiction. This time, when the desire
to smoke came back, I was able to
fight it,” she said.
Ms. Boyd has been smoke-free
since February 14, 2010.
For more information about
Tobacco Cessation Program, call
Vol. 20, No. 2
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