You can do this, Louisiana.

Live fun. Live fit. Live Tobacco-free.

HUD resident celebrates being smoke-free

Lafayette public housing resident Leisha Carter began smoking at age 19, and it wasn’t until a visit to her cardiologist 37 years later that she quit for good.

‘The [doctor] recommended I stop smoking because I was getting short-winded, had high blood pressure and was diabetic,’ Leisha said. ‘It was a blessing, because I [had] been praying on it for many years and finally got the strength enough to stop.’

Leisha’s doctor connected her to the Smoking Cessation Trust, a smoking cessation program that benefits Louisiana residents who began smoking before Sept. 1, 1988 and desire to quit. Through the Trust, Leisha received nicotine patches but decided to quit cold turkey.

‘I started with the patches and gum, but I didn’t care for it too much. I just said I can do it on my own,’ she noted.

While Leisha admits it was hard to quit in the beginning, she credits her family with providing encouragement.

‘I had help from my husband, and he made sure we didn’t have cigarettes. A lot of my family did support me, because they don’t smoke, and they’d pray that I’d stop,’ she said.

Leisha’s journey to quit smoking began around the same time the Lafayette Housing Authority chose to implement the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s nationwide smoke-free in public housing rule.

Announced in December 2016, the rule became effective in February 2017, with all public housing authorities required to implement a policy by July 30, 2018. The Lafayette Housing Authority announced the change in January 2017.

‘I was happy, because it pushed me even more to quit,’ Leisha said of the policy. ‘They got a lot of people [to] quit smoking.’

Leisha serves as president of the Lafayette Housing Authority’s Resident Council and has words of encouragement for her neighbors and others who want to give up smoking or other forms of tobacco.

‘Some of the residents quit on their own, off and on; some like to quit on a Monday to see how far they go but get back to smoking. But when you get off the wagon, just keep going and start all over again,’ she said.

Besides the health effects of a smoke-free environment, apartments that are free of smoke cost less to renovate or repair when a new tenant moves in.

For Leisha, though, the benefits of going smoke-free are more personal.

‘Quitting smoking helped me become healthier, and I’ve noticed the difference in my blood pressure. I have also been taken off medications and feel great,’ said Leisha.

‘I promise you not to smoke again!’

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