June 06, 2020

Dover-Foxcroft couple end ninety years of smoking cigarettes

“I’ve been smoking all my life — I’d never be able to quit.”

Don’t try that excuse on William and Barbara (Atkinson) Zimmerman of Dover-Foxcroft. Between the two of them, they had smoked approximately 90 years.

That ended last January, with the help of the Quit and Win Contest at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. Each entered the contest, and was “sponsor” for the other.

Barbara Zimmerman won the second prize of $250 in the drawing held at the end of the contest sponsored by the Healthy Heart Program at EMMC, and her better half won $100 as sponsor.

“My husband was in the hospital with pneumonia,” recalled Barbara, and the doctor said that if he didn’t quit smoking, he might not get another chance.

“He smoked close to 50 years,” she said, “and I had smoked around 40 years. That’s a lot of black tar going into the lungs.”

So they signed up for Quit and Win. “Between the two of us, it was a little simpler, and the program did help,” Barbara said. She found encouragement from Wendie Lagasse, director of the Healthy Heart Program, too. “Wendie calls up every so often to see how we’re doing, and that means a lot, too,” she said.

The Zimmermans’ family members have been pleased with their success at quitting. “It’s hard for them to believe because we had tried several times,” Barbara said.

The couple’s lives are certainly different now. Her husband feels so much better, Barbara said. “He goes swimming every day over to the `Y’ five days a week. Spring, summer and fall, I like to get out for a walk,” she said.

“Anybody would be wise” to give the Quit and Win Contest a try, “if they really wanted to quit,” Barbara said. “You’ve got to want to do it.”

Some 178 people signed up for the Quit and Win Contest last time, said Wendie Lagasse of the Healthy Heart Program. Fifty-three were eligible for the prize drawings in February.

More than 1,000 smokers have tried to quit through the EMMC contest over the past six years. Registration for the new Quit and Win Contest will begin Dec. 28 and run until Jan. 12. Participants must agree to quit smoking for the period Jan. 12-Feb. 17.

Those who successfully complete the program will be eligible for a drawing for $500, first prize; $250, second prize; or four third prizes of $100 each. Sponsors may win $150, $100 or $25.

To be eligible for the drawing, participants must prove they have not smoked by taking a carbon-monoxide test between noon and 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, at EMMC or some other location.

Those who wish to enter may call the Healthy Heart Program at 945-7088, or pick up a form at a Laverdiere’s drug store in the Bangor area.

A variety of facilities sponsor programs or offer materials to those who wish to quit smoking. Among them are:

EMMC Healthy Heart Program, Bangor, 945-7088.

Nicotine Addiction Support Group, 6:30 p.m. Mondays, Forsyth Conference Room, EMMC.

Smokers Anonymous, 6:30 p.m. Thursdays, Brown Conference Room, EMMC.

Facility for Occupational and Rehabilitative Medicine, “Fresh Start,” Millinocket, 723-4581.

Houlton Regional Hospital, “Freedom from Smoking,” 532-9471, ext. 249, Dana Jones.

Mayo Regional Hospital, Dover-Foxcroft, 564-8401, Dale Morrell.

M.D.I. PATCH “Smoking Cessation Program,” M.D.I. Hospital, 288-5081, ext. 203, Susan Emmons.

Penobscot Bay Medical Center, Rockport, “Freedom from Smoking,” 596-8531, Karen Lane.

Redington-Fairview General Hospital, Skowhegan, “Freedom from Smoking,” 474-5121, ext. 318, Alaine Sorrento.

Sebasticook Valley Hospital, Pittsfield, “Smokeless,” 487-5141, ext. 477, Nancy Marshall.

University of Maine, Orono, “Freedom from Smoking,” for university staff, 581-2367, Betsy Allin.

Waldo County Hospital, Belfast, “Freedom from Smoking,” 338-2500, ext. 154, before noon.

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