When Thomas H. Stone, 79, was only 16 years old, he lost his father to lung cancer caused from smoking cigarettes. Now, Stone's sisters are facing the same fight for the same reason: smoking.
Stone told Newschannel 6 that given his personal experiences, he knew better than to start smoking. Unfortunately however, Stone is the minority in Texoma.
Texoman Diana Aderholt smokes. She's just one of the around 30 percent of Wichita Falls residents who smoke. That shocking statistic is one of the major contributing factors that led to the city of Wichita Falls' national title of "Smokiest City" in 2011.
Aderholt told Newschannel 6 how difficult it was for her to quit smoking cigarettes. "It's hard sometimes. It takes a while, especially if you see someone else smoking a cigarette, then you really want some," said Anderholt.
Since she took up the habit around the age of 16, she said she'd tried numerous times to quit, but nothing ever stuck. Some of her attempts to quit were successful for some periods of time, but on Wednesday she claimed the title of "smoker."
Along with Aderholt, Midwestern State University student and football player, Nick Peterpaul, said he knows the damage tobacco can do. Peterpaul first started smoking as a freshman in high school. Not long afterward, Peterpaul quit smoking around his junior year. As Peterpaul explained, he wanted to improve his performance on the football field.
Nick Peterpaul said smoking has been a struggle for his entire family. "I've seen my grandmother pass away because of lung cancer because she smoked for so long, and I've just seen a lot of problems in my family with it. And my dad currently smokes. I've gotten him to quit probably five or six times, but he keeps starting back," said Peterpaul.
United Regional Health Care System in Wichita Falls offers an open course to help Texomans kick the habit. The program's been in place now for about five years.
Respiratory Care Director at United Regional and a course instructor, Darrin French, said willpower is key when trying to kick the habit. "This class," he said, "helps support that."
You're encouraged to sign up for the course if you're ready to stop smoking. You can do that without breaking the bank. The one time enrollment fee is 25 dollars. The course is, in reality, more like a support group.
Darrin French said, "We even encourage people to come to the class with a spouse or a family member, or friend or somebody… somebody that can support them. So not only in the class they're getting support from the class, but they're getting support at home hopefully."
The goal of the smoking cessation courses and program at United Regional is to improve the shocking statistic and help Texoma's smoking population take back what smoking took from them: their health. French said that if even one person stops smoking because of the program, it is a success.