How I Overcame Tobacco Use

May 27, 2021

By Queen Shannon

My name is Queen Shannon Gipson, I’m a black trans women and representative from the Unique Woman’s Coalition, a black trans led organization here in Los Angeles California. I want to share my own experience of how I overcame smoking cigarettes. It has been a long road of smoking since I was 17 years old and now, I am 40!

I indulged in my first cigarette from peer pressure. All my friends smoked because you were considered the “cool kid” for doing so, and I wanted in on being part of the IT crowd, so I began smoking Bidis. A Bidi is a Jamaican tobacco leaf like a cigarette. After smoking a year, I was introduced to Black and Mild cigars. I later learned that a cigar equals 20 cigarettes, so I quit those and began smoking Newport cigarettes.

Smoking was so present in my household, everyone around me smoked cigarettes. After 15 years of smoking, I noticed how it started affecting my health. I had a host of bad side effects including my skin getting spotty, bad breath, unpleasant smell on my clothes, stained teeth, it affected my breathing, and weight loss. I told myself, this bad habit isn’t worth all these complications and I began to look for ways to quit smoking. I first tried quitting cold turkey which was impossible, and then I purchased pills, patches, and gum. I failed them all. Quitting definitely felt impossible at that point.

My mother paid for acupuncture which was supposed to decrease my smoking desire. Stressful experiences would increase my smoking. I went from smoking 1 pack a day, to 2 packs per day. That was alarming to myself so after abusing the habit, my health started to decline. I was later diagnosed with a micro Butin respiratory infection from excessive smoking. Anyone would have thought that experience would led me to quit! For about two weeks I was in the hospital on a breathing machine. That was a clear wakeup call, however, I still wasn’t able to quit.

After my hospital stay, I had a plan to put into action and that was to quit smoking. I stopped buying packs of cigarettes and instead I would buy five cigarettes for the day. I began to train myself to smoke less, and it was working. I started incorporating habits like exercising to increase my breathing, my eating habits increased, and I began to feel so much better. The less I smoked, the more amazing I began to feel inside and out! In addition to feeling physically and emotionally healthier, I was saving thousands of dollars by not spending money on tobacco products.

After 15 years of prayers and family support I took the steps to quit smoking. It felt like the greatest achievement. It is so important to take control of the wellness of your body. Smoking is a mind addiction and once you gain control you can overcome any addiction. Smoking affects you and everyone around you. Today I am 7 years tobacco free and I encourage anyone who has the desire to quit to do so. Your life will only change for the better, trust me, I know mine did.

You can start by taking a small step and take the We Breathe Policy Platform Survey at and share about your experience with tobacco use. Qualifying participants who complete the survey will receive a $15 gift card. Gift card eligibility will be determined after researchers review all the responses. It may take up to eight weeks for qualifying respondents to receive their gift card.

More About Queen Shannon:

I consider myself a Unique woman who never tilts her crown, A QUEEN. Growing up in Inglewood CA, I was a granny’s baby. I almost graduated from AIU University with a dual B.A degree in fashion design & merchandising but the school lost its accreditation my senior year. Having little experience in community work, I dove in headfirst. Volunteering time to UWC (Unique Woman’s Coalition) eventually paid off. Given an opportunity in the intern program I was hired as The Drop In Office Coordination for the 1st Black trans led organization under the leadership of CEO Queen Chela Demuir. I am forever Thankful to UWC for a spot-on the team, it saved my life!! It brought me out of depression and gave me a purpose. A purpose to help my sisters who needs guidance and understanding. In just a brief time, I have developed so much passion & leadership skill set to be a voice for my community. In 2019 I began developing my own online drop-shipping hair company called The Pretty Hair Plug LLC which is still in development. My future goal is to be an Entrepreneur! An example of a Beautiful, Strong, Black, Fierce Trans Woman who “Rose above her struggle”