Janise Bankard’s introduction to tobacco started early. As a daughter and granddaughter of smokers, the presence of cigarettes wasn’t something she gave much thought to, it was just a given. That is probably why, when she was offered her first cigarette at age 10 by a group of older kids she was hanging out with at school, she didn’t hesitate, she lit up. “It was just the thing to do, everyone smoked,” she recalls.

Though she would never call herself a pack a day smoker, Janise quickly became dependent on tobacco. Every party involved sitting in a circle with friends and smoking though a few packs of cigarettes, to the point where she would wake up hoarse the next day. But sometimes she could make it a whole week on only one pack. This, compounded by the fact that her cravings didn’t come in the morning like many smokers but later in the evening, led her to believe that her nicotine addiction was minor; not a problem.

That is until she found out she was pregnant with her first child. “The day I found out that I was pregnant, I literally threw my pack of cigarettes out the window, I quit cold turkey, no program or anything,” she said. But that resolve wouldn’t last. A few years later, after her second daughter turned two, she found herself craving a cigarette and promptly went out and bought a pack.

She maintained her social smoking habit for many years until a new policy at work made her reconsider quitting. “There was talk about all the staff needing to be tobacco free. When I talked to one of my co-workers about it, she suggested I try vaping.” The coworker swore by the product, and even sent Janise to her favorite vape shop complete with a list of all the things she would need to get started. Later that day, Janise walked out of the shop with her first e-cigarette in what would become a line of many.


She quickly found her dependence on the product was becoming out of control. “Where I used to have to go outside and smoke a cigarette, now I could just puff on the vape all day. I could take a puff between words in a conversation, while watching TV or out with friends. I wasn’t even conscious I was doing it some of the time.”

As she moved on to a more heavy-duty e-cigarette model, her husband and friends expressed concern that she was becoming obsessed. So, she tried to cut back by not turning the vape to the highest setting and using pods with less nicotine. Unfortunately, these minor changes didn’t seem to make a difference at all, her nicotine cravings were getting stronger and she found herself wanting to vape all the time. Even worse, the constant vaping was starting to take a toll on her body. “Especially at night, my chest felt so heavy, like a ton of bricks was on top of me. I had only been vaping for about eight months but sometimes I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I had a constant gurgling cough and my husband even said that there were times that he would hear me stop breathing in the middle of the night.”

Thinking it was a sleep disorder, Janise visited her doctor and asked for expert opinions. What she found out surprised her. The doctor confirmed that the pauses in breathing weren’t sleep apnea but may have been a side effect of vaping. This is when Janise decided it was time to quit for good. Though she was skeptical, after doing some research she decided to try the American Lung Association’s Freedom From Smoking class. For Janise, this decision would be the turning point in her addiction.

Freedom From Smoking was so helpful because it educated me about what tobacco was doing to my body. The program was really well thought out and our leader did an amazing job of not only educating but really making me want to quit. But the best part was the accountability. There were about 15 people in our class, and I didn’t want to fail and let them, and myself, down.”

Eight years later, Janise is still tobacco free. She admits she still has cravings at times but says she has found ways to cope thanks to advice given to her in that Freedom From Smoking class. She even became more involved with the Lung Association, working for the development team for a few years. But one thing is clear, she will never go back to smoking anything. “Now that I am a nonsmoker, I can tell how gross the habit is, I am disgusted by it. Even though it sometimes makes me unpopular, I will ask people to put cigarettes out if they are around other people because secondhand some is just as dangerous, that is something that Freedom From Smoking really made me think about. And vaping was a joke, it was just a waste money, and it made me feel worse than cigarettes.”

Janise is currently living her best life, without a cough, and without illness. She enjoys playing with her grandkids and passes her knowledge of living tobacco free onto them. “I am very vocal and even tell my granddaughter, all you need in your lungs is air.”

Don’t replace one addiction with another, quit for good with our Freedom From Smoking program and access 10 percent off through December 31, 2019 at Lung.org/quit-dont-switch.

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