Meet the Participants
Certified nursing and medication assistant in Menomonie, Wisconsin
Age at first puff : 11
Past quit attempts: cold turkey, various support groups, hypnosis
Sharon says: "I used to smoke 20 to 25 cigarettes a day—Marlboro Reds—and then I cut back to about five a day. Just about any strong emotion, whether I'm celebrating or can't stop crying, makes me want a cigarette. Smoking gives me courage, helps me face things. However, when I quit and I'm succeeding, I feel invincible. On July 1 last year I quit cold turkey, and I started gaining weight. I thought I should smoke for a bit to lose a few pounds. But being skinny and hacking up tar is no good, either."
Dr. Schroeder's suggestion: A short-acting form of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), such as gum, to use when a craving comes on—this is probably all she needs since she smokes so few cigarettes. (NRT aids may temporarily prevent weight gain, possibly due to nicotine's effect on neurotransmitters that suppress appetite, according to Schroeder's colleague Karen Hudmon, an associate professor at Purdue University School of Pharmacy.) And the Oprah.com group is a good support system.