The Path to a Tobacco-Free Lifestyle


Story told by a WellShare Community Health Worker


Let me tell you about a man and his son who came to my table as I was doing outreach outside of the Brian Coyle Center. The man was middle-aged, thin, and frail, with yellow teeth. His son seemed much healthier. The man introduced himself as Said, and asked me why I was sitting here. I explained that I am a community health worker at WellShare International, educating the community about the harms of tobacco use. I began to explain the problem with cigarettes, smoking, secondhand smoke, and shisha (smoking hookah). I handed him our brochures, in both English and Somali.

After quickly reading through these, he looked up at me with sad eyes. “I have tried to quit smoking many times back when I lived in Africa, but I could not do it.” Said said that he has only been living in Minnesota for two years and doesn’t know any doctors here, so I gave him our smoking cessation resources and a few names of reliable health clinics. I told him, “there are many ways to stop smoking. The doctor can give you a nicotine patch or gum, among other things.” As Said read through WellShare’s materials he said, “today I will quit. Smoking almost killed me.” His son looked at him and promised that he would never touch a cigarette, since he knew of his dad’s struggles.

Because of our work, this man is now changing his entire lifestyle to become healthier and smoke-free. He uses our resources and meets with our community health workers regularly, goes to the gym consistently, and even eats better. Said is now a role model for his son, who convinces his friends to never try cigarettes or hookah.

East African Smoke-free Program - Wellshare International

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