• Queens Man Stars In No Smoking Ads
  • When Forest Hills resident Ethan Teicher first picked up a cigarette at the tender age of 15 to impress a girl, he had no idea that his eventual struggle to quit would make him a reality television star.

    But it has.

    Teicher, now 35, is the subject of a citywide ad campaign launched at the end of January called “Watch Bob Quit.” The campaign, which uses the internet and television ads to encourage people to stay away from tobacco, was launched by the non-profit American Legacy Foundation in partnership with the New York City Department of Health, and follows Teicher, known for the purposes of the campaign as “Bob,” as he battles his 20-year habit.

    In an interview with the Tribune this week, Teicher – a construction worker – said he was “just lucky” to be chosen as the subject of the television campaign. He said, “I walked outside of my job to smoke. I didn’t have any cigarettes; I had borrowed one from a guy I was working with. A person from the American Legacy was looking for someone who wanted help to quit smoking cigarettes. They asked me questions. I answered them honestly, filled out some paperwork, and began doing this.”

    Teicher, who grew up in Brooklyn before moving to Forest Hills as an adult, said he has wanted to quit smoking cigarettes “for a while,” and had actually tried twice. He said, “They were never successful. The thing is, you can make up situations for why it shouldn’t be this week. There are always birthdays and holidays. There’s always some excuse for not quitting. You’ve got to find excuses for why you need to quit.”

    For Teicher, there were four excuses to quit he couldn’t ignore – his wife Christiaan and three children Hannah, 9, Noah, 7, and Chloe, 3. He said, “Every week, Christiaan would be asking me, ‘When are you going to quit? When are you going to quit?’ . . . My kids, if I was in the shower, would go into my clothes and drawers and find my cigarettes.”

    The American Legacy Foundation, which aims at creating a world without tobacco, launched the ad campaign on Jan. 29 with the support of the New York City Department of Health. The ad campaign chronicles Teicher quitting smoking cigarettes to show how his life has changed for the better since giving up cigarettes.

    He actually quit on Jan. 5, and he said, “I haven’t smoked since.” He said he is using nicotine gum and patches to quit, as well as a “quit bag” full of “things to keep his hands busy” like wood stirrers from Starbucks that he breaks apart.

    He has also started guitar lessons, has begun skating, has started going to the gym, has taken up Tai Chi, and has begun writing a journal explaining how he’s feeling and why he wants a cigarette. The journal, known as the Bob Blog, is available online at www.bobquits.com.

    He said, “Before, I didn’t know how to quit, I figured just going and getting the patch was quitting. That’s not quitting smoking cigarettes. Some people, they can just go in and get the patch and that’s it. I needed to know why. Why I smoked, why I should quit . . . This time, I’m keeping a journal. I’m doing things I’ve never done before, and it’s really helping.”

    He said before he quit, he took a week to prepare, and did some calculations to encourage him to stick with it. He said he figured out that he had smoked 170,000 cigarettes, had spent about $38,000 and had smoked for a year and a half straight. He said, “It was very shocking. It’s not so much the money. I didn’t like the number of cigarettes online that I smoked or the total amount of time smoking cigarettes. That’s sort of disgusting.”

    He says he feels “much healthier and awake” since quitting, and said, “You know what I notice? Sometimes, when I come home and I take a nap, I lay down and I can listen to myself breathe. When I was smoking cigarettes, not that breathing was difficult, it was loud. I’m only 35 years old.”

    He said he will do whatever it takes to stay off cigarettes, and said, “It’s difficult every day. It was difficult this morning. It was difficult yesterday afternoon . . . I’m the type of person who in 20 years will still crave cigarettes. That’s what kind of smoker I was.

    So is this the final quit? I don’t know.”