Kicking tobacco addiction through peer support and culture

Ashley Tiedeman, Tulalip Tobacco Cessation Program Coordinator (2nd from right), and program members show the woven cedar frog pins they made during a habit replacement class.

Ashley Tiedeman, Tulalip Tobacco Cessation Program Coordinator (2nd from right), and program members show the woven cedar frog pins they made during a habit replacement class.


By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News 

One of the most difficult challenges one might have to personally face in their lifetime is kicking the tobacco addiction. Without even realizing it, long-time smokers’ entire lives are mapped out the moment they first began to crave a cancer stick. Social circles were most likely affected first. Many non-smokers cannot bear to be around smokers because of factors such as the lingering smell of stale smoke a cigarette user often carries. And smokers know that their non-smoking friends and family members have good intentions but their words can sometimes sound preachy, making the smoker feel judged. For this reason, smokers tend to socialize and associate themselves with other smokers and vice versa for non-smokers.

This creates a problem for smokers who are trying to quit. Because of the bonding experience smokers share during work, social and family events, smokers often feel like they are stepping into a completely different world, not to mention the withdrawal symptoms like cravings and irritability they experience from quitting. Smokers who attempt to kick the habit struggle because that’s exactly what it is, a habit. They usually adhere to an internal schedule when it comes to lighting up a stogie such as after a meal or once they hit the road on their daily commute.

A large part of why smokers relapse is the lack of a support system. Since smokers often associate with smokers, if a person who is trying to quit has been smoking a long time, chances are their closest friends are smokers as well. This can sometimes lead to peer pressure, doubt, and negativity from their friends, which then results into a ‘might as well’ attitude. In that moment of weakness, a cig is lit and the chances of quitting again are put on hold for a few months. Many smokers who attempt to quit multiple times, begin secretly trying to quit to avoid public humiliation.

Tulalip’s Tobacco Cessation Program provides smokers with all the resources they need to drop the bad habit for good. Some of the resources include one-on-one counseling, nicotine patches and gum, new friends and support systems, and fun crafts and activities that smokers can use while they slowly begin to transition to a smoke-free life.

Ashley Tiedeman, Tobacco Cessation Program Coordinator, invites and encourages smokers to check out one of her classes, which are held on a monthly basis. She wants to ensure smokers that the program is designed to support and assist during the excruciating quitting process.

She states, “If someone is still smoking but is interested in quitting, they can still come to these classes because that’s the whole idea behind it, to see if different activities or crafts can help.” Ashley says the program does not pressure smokers into quitting but rather gives them a healthy alternative. Whether the alternative is cedar weaving, beading, or having great conversation with others struggling to quit, Ashley has created a space where smokers can feel comfortable and have a fun time while forgetting that cigarettes once ruled everything around them.

Group participant and master haida weaver, Lisa Telford stated, “No matter what I do, how many times I screw up and fall off the wagon, Ashley takes me back because she cares about us.”

For assistance with kicking the tobacco addiction and for additional information contact the Tulalip Cessation Program at (360) 716-5719.



Contact Kalvin Valdillez at