Employee Story: Irena Stoyanova, Magna Powertrain
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Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain

Irena Stoyanova, a Payroll & Benefits Administrator with Magna Powertrain, was a pack-a-day smoker for about 25 years. She hadn’t had any real health scares, which often prompt smokers to stop NOW, but she had been contemplating quitting. There was always a future quit-date, followed by an excuse to postpone it.

“When I heard about the pilot Smoking Cessation Challenge I was very excited that Advanced Product Technologies (APT) was selected for its launch. I am competitive by nature, so the challenge aspect of it appealed to me. I anticipated being able to ‘compare notes’ with the other smokers who elected to participate in the challenge as well as motivate each other. Magna places priority on its employees’ health and well-being, therefore I was confident that the Company will provide plenty of support for us – which it did, with access to counseling, nicotine replacement therapy products, hypnosis, and laser acupuncture. I chose to attend the counseling sessions and elected the laser acupuncture. After all, it was worth trying.

When I started working at APT, it became pretty clear to me that I was the only female smoker on staff - this kind of made me feel embarrassed – so I did my absolute best to conceal it: I would not take any smoke breaks during working hours, but would make up for that before work, during my lunch break and after work. It was obvious to everyone around me, but I had to come to the realization on my own – with this pattern I had started smoking even more. I was so good at concealing it that my co-workers did not really know that I smoked – they were surprised to see me attending the Smoking Cessation meetings.

In recent years, however, it has become apparent to me that society has been placing pressure on smokers to quit. I could not help but feel like an outcast – you have to go to a specifically designated, separate from everyone, usually remote, smoking area to have a cigarette. I have never smoked in my house, yet I would actually go outside even in extreme weather conditions (rain, snow, in boiling or freezing temperatures) to have a smoke.

Successfully smoke free since April 20, 2014, Irena uses a positive attitude to shield against triggers.  

My 10-year-old daughter has always been very vocal about wanting me to quit.  I feel I have done this not only for myself, but for her as well. Quitting smoking is setting a great example for her; as long as you adopt a positive frame of mind, you can overcome the biggest challenges. I would absolutely do anything in my power to prevent her from starting to smoke and falling into the ‘nicotine trap’, from which she may not be able to escape.    APT provided Allan Carr’s book, ‘Easy Way to Stop Smoking’ to all participants in the challenge.  I can’t stress enough what an eye-opener that was! The book hit home for me on many, many levels because I could totally relate. It provided me with a great new perspective, shattered many myths about smoking and I strongly recommend it to anyone who is trying to quit. Of course, certain situations will always create cravings. For me, these are: the first coffee in the morning, driving, after a meal, in social gatherings with other smokers. The only way I have been able to overcome these cravings is not to avoid the triggering situations but to face them with an open mind and positive attitude. I remind myself that I have made the right decision and I have nothing to lose, but everything to gain! As time passes and cravings gradually subside, I also become more and more invested.

Regular, vigorous exercise used to be part of Irena’s routine, but she began finding cardio exercises difficult. I attributed the running-out-of-breath to ageing, but now I know this was largely due to my smoking, because within the first two weeks of becoming smoke-free I felt a tremendous improvement. I have gone through a wonderful transformation - now I feel great! I feel energized and am very happy that I made the decision to get on the road to recovery.

It may turn to be a long and winding road, but the destination of being a non-smoker is worth reaching. Always remember that ‘you have nothing to lose, but everything to gain’ and be happy that you have made the decision to stop smoking."

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