Former smoker finds new life

POSTED: 05:19 PM PST Nov 15, 2012    UPDATED: 05:19 PM PST Nov 15, 2012 
generic smoking cigarette

Sharla Johnson remembers the exact day and time she kicked her smoking habit.
"August 23rd, 2000, at 3:30 in the afternoon," Johnson said.

The certified personal trainer smoked her last cigarette twelve years ago.
Snuffing out the habit proved just as challenging as the once heavy smoker thought.

"In the beginning, I liked it because of all the advertising, the Virginia Slims ads in the magazines, and on television. It was glamorous," Johnson said.

Not only that, but she said, in the 80's, more people smoked and we didn't know all the health dangers.

"I worked out at a gym where they actually had a bar on the second floor, so people smoked there, so it was going through all the vents of everything," she said.

Then she took a long hard look at her health situation.

"I have rheumatoid arthritis, I've had that since I was 27. So I knew it wasn't helping my disease at all," Johnson said.

When Sharla decided to change her life, she really changed her life.
"I don't smell like smoke, your skin gets better. I don't know if it's just in my head, but you can feel your lungs working better," Johnson said.

She has advice for those trying to quit.

"Just keep trying. You're never going to quit if you don't try. You need to have a plan," she said.

She adds, find your reason -- your motivation. Twelve years  ago, Sharla couldn't imagine life without a cigarette, but now, "I really can't even imagine that I smoked now. I just celebrate that I had the courage to stick it out and finally conquer it."

The Great American Smokeout urges smokers to take action now, whether you quit smoking today, or just make a plan to do so.