News and Events

Tobacco Free Partnership Member Mary Jean Koll Shares her Quit And Tell Story!
November 19, 2015

The Great American Smoke-out, an observance sponsored by the American Cancer Society and Tobacco Free Florida was held on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015.  The Tobacco Free Partnership of Dixie County was encouraging tobacco users to use the day to make a quit plan or to plan in advance to quit on that day. The observance, currently in its 40th year, raises awareness about the dangers of smoking and the many effective resources available to successfully quit. The theme this year was Quit & Tell that highlighted 6 steps in cessation:  Step 1, Decide to Quit, and tell yourself you can do it;  Step 2, Make a Plan to quit and tell Tobacco Free Florida and/or your health care provider that you need help; Step 3, Set a Quit Date, and tell your friends and family you need their support; Step 4, Start your Quit Journey, and tell yourself not to give up; Step 5, Keep Trying, and tell Tobacco Free Florida and/or your health care provider about your good and bad days; Step 6 Quit & Tell us about it!

Mary Jane Kroll
From L to R: Lindsey Whittington (SWAT Advisor), Mary Jean Kroll,
Jovante' Teague (Tobacco Free Partnership Chair)

On Wednesday, November 18, 2015, the Tobacco Free Partnership of Dixie County held the quarterly meeting at the Dixie County High School Media Center and was honored to host a presenter, Mary Jean Koll who came to speak about her experience with all 6 steps with finishing up with Quit & Tell.  She was very nervous to actually speak in front of others but knew that she wanted to be of any help for those who think about quitting.

Mary shared with the partnership about her beginning habit of smoking starting at the age of 19 when as she recalls, a pack of cigarettes were cheap at .24 cents a pack.  She had continued to smoke most of her life with several quit attempts that only lasted a week or two at the most.  She could remember how much time she would spend worrying and stressing about her day as to where she would smoke, did she have enough cigarettes left until she went back to the store and how embarrassed she had become over the habit when she would have to walk away from family to smoke outdoors.

Mary recalled some of the factors that got her to the point where she wanted to get help to quit.  Even though she had tried the patch, gum and even hypnotism in the past, she never asked anyone for help and didn’t want anyone in her family to know if she couldn’t quit.  Mary described how climbing up the 20 steps to her apartment became very tiring and it took her much longer to recover after riding her bike, which she loves to do.  The final blow was waking up one morning, unable catch her breath, she was almost to the point of dialing 911 before she breathed again, then she realized that she needed to quit smoking.

Her biggest supporter was her niece, Lindsey Whittington who she bragged about not bugging her about smoking but several times mentioned the 3 ways to quit programs that the Tobacco Free Partnership of Dixie County promoted.  Lindsey, the Dixie County High School SWAT advisor, shared with her Aunt Mary about all of the events and activities in which the SWAT students participated. This led Mary to finally deciding to attempt one more time to quit smoking. 

Mary’s sister attend the first AHEC class with her because she didn’t want to go alone, but she finally did completed the AHEC class and set her quit date on her brother’s birthday.  She shared with her family and friends about this quit attempt and received so much support.  She was very open to the partnership during the presentation that she still wants a cigarette but she is no longer addicted to smoking. She said that at first it felt like she lost her best friend but now she feels like a burden has been lifted off of her.   Mary described how she has to avoid the check-out lines at the big stores that are the “Tobacco” lines.  She still receives tobacco coupons in the mail that often look like pretty presents. She feels bad for people who still smoke and hopes that sharing her story will help someone. 

Mary finished up her presentation by telling the members that after smoking for over 50 years, and being diagnosed with COPD, she is thankful to be able to share her story and she thanked the Partnership of Dixie County for the work that they are doing in the community to help others addicted to smoking.