What People Are Saying

Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland

World Health Organization Director-General


“If we do not act decisively, a hundred years from now our grandchildren and their children will look back and seriously question how people claiming to be committed to public health and social justice allowed the tobacco epidemic to unfold unchecked.” 

Marilyn Leeds, AHEC Quality Assurance Director 
FSU College of Medicine AHEC Program Office:

Mark Twain once said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”  Floridians can now get started with their quit journey from the comfort of their homes with the AHEC Cessation Program virtual Group Quit sessions. AHEC staff and facilitators have converted the in-person Group Quit option into a unique virtual session offering the same high quality interactive group dynamics and evidence-based techniques to help tobacco users quit.  Quitting tobacco is a journey.  We are encouraging tobacco users to start their journey now with virtual cessation groups.

Participant: A. Mitchell from Tampa, FL

“I never thought I could quit smoking.  The AHEC group quit facilitator and other group members provided me with information on how tobacco was affecting my health and helped me put together a plan to quit.  After several slips and a relapse, I never stopped trying to quit.  Currently, I have been tobacco free for 2 years!  Thanks to AHEC Group Quit and the support of my family, I am now living my best life.”

Participant: Lawrence B. from Orlando, FL

“The virtual class will benefit anyone who is willing to quit smoking like I was. Not only can you attend a class safely from the comfort of your own home but you then receive patches and lozenges delivered right to your door. Most importantly, you get invaluable information and encouragement from your facilitator and the other participants. The interaction with the group members gave me great moral support and it also kept me focused on my goals so that I could succeed. I am now 3 and a half months tobacco free and I’m so grateful.”

Participant: Hope

“It was so good to connect with other people struggling with the same issues during the virus.”

Participant: Leslie R. from Ocala, FL

“About 4 months ago, I really got tired of smoking. So, I decided to call the Tobacco Free Florida number, and I told them I was really interested in starting my journey to quit. I tried a hypnotist in the past which cost me $350 and it did absolutely nothing for me. The bottom line is, if you’re up to it, it’s going to be a challenge. When I first started, I continued to smoke. As time went on, I began smoking less and less. As I used the patch more, I ended up not smoking for 3 weeks continuously. Unfortunately, after something tragic happened in my life I began smoking again. I was able to start using my products again and am now using 14mg patch after being on 21mg for 2 months. I set a goal to quit on 10/31/20 and I haven’t just yet but I am down to 1 cigar from starting around 5 packs of cigars a day. Even though I haven’t quit yet, I have a new goal to quit within the next week, and I am feeling a lot better by making these changes towards quitting. The quit groups help you go through this process with others, and understand more/apply different tips to quit. I know that I can beat this and you can too. If you just pick up the phone and call, you will be doing a great service to yourself and others.

Participant: Jon B. from Weston, FL

“I found the virtual quit smoking support group extremely helpful. Listening to other people’s issues and ideas gave me methods that aided in quitting. I participated in two (four-week) groups. I quit after the second week and never went back to smoking. Getting together with the others to see how they were doing, and receiving (and giving!) support really helped not feeling so alone. Three of us from the first group repeated and by the end we had all quit! Fantastic in my opinion.”

Participant: Mark K. from Miami, FL

I started smoking in 1992. I quickly became addicted both physically and emotionally. On average, I smoked one pack per day. My emotional dependence was so severe any problems I was going thru I could easily smoke two packs per day. Everything I did a cigarette was attached to it before, during and after.

In January 2019 I received a diagnosis of COPD and emphysema. I was told I had to stop now because my condition would only continue to get worse. I panicked. I still didn’t even want to quit but I knew I had to quit. I never even tried to quit in all my years of smoking. The anxiety was unbearable in the beginning.

I tried nicotine anonymous, therapy and a quit smoking app on my phone. Not with much success. My fear and anxiety got worse with the thought of not being able to stop. So, I smoked even more. I remembered a pamphlet that I picked up for my friend at Jackson Hospital the summer before when I was visiting him. The pamphlet was for a free Tobacco cessation program. He didn’t want to quit but I kept the pamphlet.

I called the number and enrolled. After the first class my anxiety level had significantly decreased because for the first time I knew I was not alone. I had the support of the instructors, Jackson hospital and my peers in the program. My fear really started to melt. I smoked my last cigarette on February 20 2019. I didn’t use the NRT’s or Wellbutrin my Doctor prescribed but I started vaping. Unfortunately, I became addicted to vaping as a cigarette replacement.

However, I continued with the program and I re-enrolled for every new session with the intention to use the recourses and emotional support from the program to stop vaping. The program emphasizes the dangers of vaping. I was able to stop vaping on July 31 2020.

My life has changed drastically for the better. My physical and emotional health have improved dramatically. I never realized until after quitting the awful effects smoking and vaping had on my physical and emotional health. They are both continually improving daily.

1 Year, 8 months, 13 Days cigarette free

94 Days vape free

I am truly grateful to the Jackson Health System Tobacco Cessation Program.

Thank you

Participant: Cary P. from Miami, FL

Good afternoon,

I would like to take this moment and thank Mr. Leonel Ayala for his dedication, patience, hard work and determination in helping me quit smoking. This is not an easy battle, for the teacher as well as the alumni. His belief in the programs potential has made me a believer that Tobacco Free Florida does work. Which is why today I can successfully say I have been smoke free for 3 weeks now.

I will continue this journey applying all the tools and knowledge Mr. Ayala has provided me through this wonderful program. Once again, thank you Mr. Ayala you help me reach my goal and you have given me a chance to live longer and healthier.

God Bless.

Participant: Bonnie G. from AdventHealth Palm Coast

Thanks for all you do. I love that you don’t judge me and you encourage me not to give up! Sometimes your faith in me seems greater than my own.

Participant: Barbara H. from Edward Waters College

Eye opening, great information, useful and so excited about a possible new life.

Participant: Raymond C. from Broward Co., FL

“I am so grateful for the Tobacco Free Florida Zoom classes. After 3 classes and the encouraging words of Leslie being so sincere and caring. I finally quit smoking and got my life back. Words cannot express my gratitude and thanks. Please share this with others.”

Participant: Maria J. from Broward Co, FL

“Agradezco mucho haber tenido la oportunidad de ingresar en el programa para dejar de fumar. Aprendí que si es posible tener una vida libre del cigarrillo. Cada caso ea diferente pero gracias a la orientación de mi instructor puedo decir que estoy libre del cigarro. Las terapias de reemplazo fueron muy acertadas y la forma en que el orientador Carlos Ortega guió a mi grupo fue excelente. Lo recomiendo!!!!”

Participant: Ella B. from Ocala, FL

“I am very thankful and grateful for the support I received from everyone at SRAHEC including Tia and Lauren. I have had much loss in my family and because of that cigarettes have been my friend and comfort. I tried quitting in the past and had quit using Chantix, but my best friend committed suicide and that sent me back to smoking. With the support and kindness of everyone at SRAHEC I am becoming smoke free.”

Participant: Angelica H. from Miami, FL

Hola mi nombre es Angelica H. vivo en Miami, Florida y le doy gracias a Tobacco Cessation Program por haberme permitido participar de las clases virtuales de grupo. Lo cual me ha ayudado a tomar conciencia de que el uso de cigarro que he tenido por mas de treinta anos, no me estaba haciendo nada bien. Al contrario dane mi salud dental, mi circulacion sanguinea, problemas de piel y malos olores de la nicotina en mi hogar perjudicando a mi familia.

Ahora que tengo mis nietos me siento feliz de poder recibirlos en casa en un ambiente limpio sin esos olores desagradables y lo principal saber que no los estoy perjudicando.

No es facil dejar este habito de tantos anos, pero con la ayuda de este programa y fuerza de voluntad de uno se puede. Cuando tengo ansiedad practico inmediatamente las 4 D, ejercicio de respiracion, me roceo colonia y tomo agua fria y estoy practicando una terapia de relajacion.

Spanish Participant
Participant: Aglais C. from Miami, FL

Mi decision de dejar el cigarrillo obedecio inicialmente a una advertencia que me hizo mi dentista, quien me dijo que estaba perdiendo materia osea en mis dientes y por las limpiezas profundas que el tenia que hacerme por las manchas causadas por el cigarrillo y porque estaba en riesgo grave de sufrir una enfermedad en mis encias y que por ultimo podria perder mis dientes.

Posteriormente descubro este programa para dejar de fumar ofrecido por la Universidad de Miami a sus empleados y pacientes.

Es en este programa y a traves de su moderador Leonel Ayala donde me entero de un gran numero de otros efectos nocivos que tiene o causa el cigarrillo sobre muchos otros organos del cuerpo (pancreas, pulmones, cerebro, estomago, etc.)

He aprendido con el moderador Leonel Ayala lo danino del habito de fumar no solo en el cuerpo sino tambien en el bolsillo.

Con su apoyo he entendido en gran medidad el proceso que actualmente atravieso al dejar de fumar.

Estas primeras dos semanas han sido extremadamente dificiles para mi. Pero debo reconocer que no lo he hecho sola. He contado con el apoyo del moderador Leonel Ayala y con las sesiones y materiales suministrados por el programa (parches, pastillas, material escrito).

Creo que este programa es muy importante para todas aquellas personas que decidan dejar de fumar y que igualmente cuenten con el apoyo de un moderador muy bien informado.


Aglais Chacon