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SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2007
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Q&A:
How the mayor quit

By Patrice Stewart
pstewart@decaturdaily.com ∑ 340-2446

Decatur Mayor Don Kyle, 57, who began smoking in college, tried to quit on and off through the years.

He has been successful since February, when he began taking Chantix, a new prescription medication by Pfizer. He had the added incentive of wanting to improve his circulation before and healing after surgery.

ďI had mentally committed to quitting smoking a good many months prior to that,Ē said Kyle. ďI was singing in a gospel group at my church and couldnít hit the high notes I used to hit.Ē

ďI tried to stop about 20-plus years ago, and over the years, I went cold turkey three or four times and stayed away from it for a while,Ē he said. ďI just didnít have the proper motivation at the time, I guess.Ē

Q: How does the prescription work?

A: I used the medication for 41/2 weeks and put the cigarettes down 21/2 weeks into it. I had picked a quit-smoking date 31/2 weeks into the prescription, but at 21/2 weeks, I had lost the desire for nicotine. When it works, it makes you feel like you donít need the nicotine. Itís been going extremely well. I would say I just have minimal thoughts about cigarettes Ė just brief, glancing sorts of things. Iíve always heard that after you get the nicotine out of the system, the habit part is the hardest thing to get over, so I think this is real positive. It not only took away the craving, it took away the enjoyment of it.

Q: Whatís good and bad about it?

A: The first three days you take one a day, and after that itís two a day. They are very small pills that are real effective. In one study, 56 percent were still not smoking a year after they began taking the drug, and in another study 73 percent were not. ... And it has curbed my appetite some, too, making me feel fuller. I found out 20 years ago that food can be an easy crutch; I stopped smoking but gained 35 pounds in 6 months. ... The potential side effect of Chantix is nausea and stomach upset, but I didnít really have a problem with either one, except when I didnít take it with a meal as instructed.

Q: Whatís the cost?

A: Itís $126 for four-week supply, and my health insurance did not pick up the cost. But if youíre a tightwad like me, you could think of it in terms of how much you would have spent on cigarettes. I would highly recommend that others get with their doctors and give this drug a chance.

Q: How did your earlier
tries at quitting go?

A: I think I was probably typical of most people. You quit for a time, and then you think you would have just one or two cigarettes, but you canít do that. Itís highly addictive. Most people have to quit two or more times before they are successful.

Q: What techniques did you try?

A: I used the patch briefly, but I felt jittery with it. It made me feel ill and like I got more nicotine from it than smoking. ... I didnít use any of the nicotine replacements like gum where you have to get off the smoke and then off the nicotine. I know people who are still chewing that two or three years later.

Q: What else can help you quit?

A: It helps to have encouragement, not preaching, from friends and others who have been successful at stopping, because this is a vile addiction that is very difficult to overcome.

Q: How has smoking in
businesses changed in
your lifetime?

A: A lot. When I got out of college and went into banking, it seemed three out of four bank employees had ashtrays on their desks. Then they went to designated smoking areas, and later they eliminated those lounges and you had to go outside.

Q: Where did you smoke through the years?

A: I restricted myself some through the years. I quit smoking in the home when my wife, who didnít smoke, was expecting our first child in 1981, when more information was coming out about secondhand smoke. I smoked at home in the carport or while working in the yard or garden. Iíd piddle around outside and make some phone calls. The car was an easy place to smoke, too, and sitting on the riverbank with a fishing pole in your hand. I used to go to bass fishing tournaments and not take cigarettes, but they were the first thing I wanted when I got back.

Q: How do you feel about smoke now that youíre
off cigarettes?

A: Itís amazing to me that once I got the stuff completely out of my system, I havenít smelled any cigarette smoke that had an inviting aroma to me. I have smelled some that was a bit offensive, but none that gave me an anxiety attack wanting it. I think itís coincidental that the city ordinance came up at this time, but Iím not sure either one affected how I feel about the other, because the big thing with the ban was people want-ing smoke-free restaurant experiences.

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