When you’re wondering how to quit smoking cigarettes, it can feel like you’re alone in the effort—and that makes it tougher.

That’s why the EX Program has cultivated such a powerful online social community, to provide support every step of the way, and we love celebrating every community member’s success, every day. We appreciate getting a look at how our work is impacting others and changing lives.

Great example: Ralph1955. His experience shines a light on how challenging it is to quit, but how amazing it feels to be an ex-smoker. Read on for a Q& A session to learn more of his story and the impact our EX Community has on helping people quit smoking.

How long did you smoke cigarettes?
50 years

What age did you start and why?
At age 15 because I thought it would make me cool in school.

Average number of cigarettes smoked per day:
25

How did smoking affect you?
It made me its prisoner and at times an outcast among people.

What prompted you to try to quit?
I wanted to take back my control and lead a healthier life. And, I promised my dad I would quit.

What was it like to quit smoking?
The few times before my quit were stressful and made me anxious and nervous. I was unable to focus and go about my days without thinking of cigarettes. I kept going back to smoking because I knew that I had not fully made the commitment nor was I truly ready to quit. Once I put a plan together, my quit was surprisingly easy.

How was EX helpful to support you in quitting?
From the day I signed up here I was met by friends and professional people who guided me and supported me during down times. The ability to reach out and ask for help was/is amazing and I know that I could not have done it without this group [EX Community].

How would you describe your experience in the EX Community?
Wow, the journey was and continues to be incredible. No one ever judged me; always supportive, caring and there for me each and every time. The people are more like family than just strangers behind a screen.

Do you continue to use any of the tools today?
During times of stress, I read a lot of the posts from members as well as use the support tools.

How long have you been tobacco-free?
July 15th was 2 years. Yay!!

How has living tobacco-free affected your life?
I have more energy, sleep a lot better, and my focus is clear. When I travel, I don’t stress about not being able to smoke at an airport for hours. I have a healthier look to my face and the smell of cigarettes no longer surround me.

What can you do now that you couldn’t do before?
Take walks, hikes, bicycle rides without getting winded. Life is now amazing, and my last checkup showed clear lungs.

How you can help members and employees quit smoking cigarettes

Interested in learning how to help more of your employees or health plan members quit tobacco for good like Ralph1955? Visit our program or contact us to see a demo today.

This content was originally published here.

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