Clearing the Smoke

Each new year brings the prospect of a fresh start. Many of us use this time as an opportunity to refocus, reset, and look for ways to improve ourselves both personally and professionally. In 2021, many Mercy Housing residents embarked on a journey toward tobacco independence with the goal to quit or reduce tobacco use.

Ellis has been a resident of Franconia for the past eight years and decided to make a huge life change to prioritize his health. On his birthday in November, he smoked his last cigarette! While choosing to quit tobacco wasn’t easy, he was ready.

For those struggling to quit, Ellis shared his advice. “Find some type of hard candy or Nicorette gum or whatever works for you — something to satisfy the craving. You need to be serious about stopping. Be honest with yourself,” said Ellis.

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It began in early 2019, when Mercy Housing became the first grantee of its kind to integrate a Tobacco Cessation program in-house and onsite, giving residents easy access to workshops, meetings, support groups, and one-on-one coaching.

Since its implementation, the program has kept a focus on meeting the needs of each resident’s journey, while making necessary adjustments to enhance the experience for everyone. The Ask, Advise, Refer Model was used by program staff to engage with residents about their tobacco use and offer support where needed.

Through strong personal connections and leadership, the Tobacco Cessation program continued to remain solid despite the transition to online. Christian, Tobacco Cessation Coordinator, met with resident’s one-on-one by phone and in virtual groups.

To keep engagement active, Christian also implemented a new Resident of the Month program at participating communities. It was a fun way to give members an opportunity to recognize the accomplishments of their fellow peers. Ellis was the first recipient to receive this honor.

We appreciated Ellis’ honesty and openness to share his journey. Christian is especially proud of him for participating in the Tobacco Cessation program and for taking the first steps toward living a tobacco-free life!

“The dedication and effort displayed by this group of individuals are inspiring to say the least. The strength, resilience, and willingness to branch out from their comfort zones continue to inspire me on a weekly basis. I have no doubt in my mind that all of these residents can and will reach their goals,” said Christian.