WILTON, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Turning 40 was a milestone for Kate D., as it marked the start of a tobacco-free journey. The Wilton resident previously smoked for 27 years. Just before her milestone occasion, Kate received a jarring diagnosis from her doctors: she had cervical cancer.

“The doctors told me treatments would be less effective and result in worse side effects if I continued smoking,” Kate said. “Fortunately, I reached out to the [New York State Smokers’] Quitline and got support to become a nonsmoker. My ensuing cancer treatment lasted only seven weeks and I’m happy to report I’m cancer-free.”

Until her diagnosis, Kate was unsure whether she would ever stop smoking. Her mother and friends smoked during her youth, and she mistakenly thought cigarettes provided comfort. In addition, Kate had tried becoming tobacco-free at points throughout her life but with no sustained success.

“After contacting the Quitline, they quickly shipped me free nicotine gum,” she said. “Medications aren’t cheap, and I’m glad I received assistance to overcome cigarette cravings. I had tried nicotine patches but never nicotine gum – and that’s what worked for me.”

Kate is enjoying 10 months of being a nonsmoker and feels a sense of relief from what she called the “burden of smoking.” She especially notices improved health while running, particularly through smoother breathing and lessened effects of allergies.

“For those looking to quit, my advice is to stick with it – the process gets easier after the first few weeks,” Kate said. “Keep trying to find what works for you. Looking back, being a smoker was absolutely disgusting, smelly, and harmful. Now, I don’t have to go outside for cigarette breaks or hide smoking during social situations. This is freeing.”

Most New York State adults are eligible to receive a free starter supply of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) medications via mail, typically in the form of nicotine patches and often with supplemental nicotine gum or nicotine lozenges. When used appropriately and in combination, NRT medications can double or triple the odds of becoming and staying tobacco-free.

For those who prefer support via text, the Quitline reminds all New Yorkers to try the new Learn2QuitNY six-week comprehensive program by enrolling online or texting QUITNOW to 333888. The Quitline also reminds all tobacco and vape product users to visit the CDC’s “Resolve to be Smokefree in ’23” website, complete with tips, resources, links, and app recommendations.

Smoking problem? Personalized support from trained tobacco treatment specialists and free resources are available seven days a week by calling 1-866-NY-QUITS, texting QUITNOW to 333888, or visiting nysmokefree.com.