Department of Health

Kicking the Habit

with Smoke Free St. Louis Kids

August 1, 2012 | 3 min reading time

James Boler and Mary Wheelington are on their way to healthier lives.  Both Boler and Wheelington had been long-time smokers, but after much determination, motivation, and support, they are now smoke-free.  They were successful with the help of the eight-week smoking cessation courses offered free of charge by the City through the Smoke Free St. Louis Kids (SFSLK) program.


For Boler, it took three attempts, but he was able to successfully quit on April 17, 2012 after 46 years of smoking. When asked what it was about the third attempt that allowed him to be successful compared to the previous two attempts, he stated that “the scare tactic that had been used in prior classes did not work well.  This approach was different.  The third time around they [SFSLK] prepared me well for my quit day… I could anticipate how I would feel while quitting and plan for the moments of cravings,” he added. For Boler, successfully quitting has motivated him to maintain being a non-smoker. “Quitting was not a picnic. I do not want to go through the process again.”


While the first few days were difficult, the challenge was well worth it. Because quitting can be a difficult process for many, SFSLK helps to prepare participants for their “quit day,” making the process easier and increasing the likelihood of success for each individual. According to Boler, the instruction on how to plan for his quit day was the most influential aspect of the course. For him, it was all about preparation. He offers the following piece of advice for those who are trying to quit. “Don’t have any cigarettes around you on your quit day. If you don’t have them around, you can’t smoke them. Concentrate on the quit day, not the day after.”


Similar to Boler, Wheelington successfully stopped smoking on March 12, 2012 after 47 years with the help of SFLSK.  Although she used the same smoking cessation course, her process looked different than it did for Boler. Wheelington used the course as a reinforcement to maintain a non-smoking lifestyle, as she chose to quit smoking two weeks prior to the start of the course.  Having the support from the class allowed Wheelington to stay strong during her first few weeks of being a non-smoker, in addition to the support she received from friends and family members.  Going to the classes each week allowed her to receive support and encouragement from those also trying to quit.  The class provides an open, encouraging space for individuals to share their accomplishments as well as their challenges during their quit process.


The course not only educates participants on the effects of smoking, but it also tries to incorporate education on healthy lifestyle changes and habits.  For Wheelington, the information and knowledge she was able to gain was the most relevant factor for her in preventing relapse.  “I learned tips about healthy eating to replace my smoking," she said. "Also, learning my triggers and how to have self-control over those triggers was helpful. Knowledge was power. “The more I learned about the effects of smoking, the more strength I had to stop.” Along with Boler, she wants others to know that quitting is not something to take lightly, but you can be successful if you put forth the time and effort. “Know that it is a hard process. Find a motivation whether it be a spouse, your children, grandchildren, whomever. If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for something or someone else who deserves it.”


If you are a city employee or resident and wish to quit smoking, or you know someone who wishes to quit, please contact Rodney Watts at 314-657-1478 or at Additional information can also be found at


Health Department

City of St. Louis


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