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June, 1997
Green Lane, Pennsylvania
Milepost 89,904

NicoVanOn the road and online...

What's it like to travel the country in a 34-foot land yacht emblazoned with a dozen tips on how to quit smoking? If we hadn't already spent nearly three years burning up miles in our own traffic-stopping rig, life in the NicoVan might have been a shock. As it is, we take it in stride when a traffic cop pulls us over not to cite us, but to pick our brains for tips on how to kick his cigarette habit. We allow extra time in supermarket parking lots when we stop to buy groceries, and we've gotten used to passing brochures to turnpike toll-takers. In Manhattan, Mark's excellent aim landed a box of information squarely on the back seat of a taxi.

When the NicoVan is open for business, usually at a drug store or an outdoor event, we're joined by local pharmacists, representatives from SmithKline Beecham, and volunteers from the American Cancer Society to staff four tables laden with brochures and information. We explain how to use Nicorette gum and NicoDerm CQ patches effectively, and we encourage smokers who want to quit to enroll in Fresh Start, a smoking cessation program offered by the American Cancer Society. The NicoVan itself becomes a hospitality suite for the counselors. Marvin enjoys his role as official host. His ears have never been so well-scratched.

The NicoVan attracts media attention, too. After all, it's the world's largest smoking cessation brochure, and utterly unique in its trans-continental mission to encourage smokers to 'commit to quit.' The NicoVan has been featured on local news programs from Los Angeles to New York, and all three of us yes, even Marvin have appeared on camera.

Life in the NicoVan means answering lots of questions every day. Here are the top ten most frequently posed queries:

10. What do you do to quit smoking if you've tried before and failed?
9. How do I make my wife/husband/mother/father/boyfriend/girlfriend/son/daughter quit?
8. Do the gum and the patch really work?
7. Do you live in there?
6. Are you married?
5. Where's home?
4. Have you ever smoked?
3. Can we have some free samples?
2. Does the dog smoke?

And the number one question (drum roll, please)
1. Got a light?

And yes, we've got answers:

10. Try again. Most people have to try four to seven times before they kick the habit permanently.
9. Until they make their own commitment to quit, all you can do is offer information and support.
8. Nicorette and NicoDerm CQ are effective aids for many people. We accept thanks on behalf of SmithKline Beecham daily from grateful former smokers.
7. Yup! The NicoVan is home!
6. Yes, we're married. More to the point, we've learned how to live together 24 hours a day in 240 square feet and enjoy it!
5. Home is where we hang our hats. The only difference between us and most people is that our hat stand has wheels. 4. Megan has never smoked, but Mark did for a while when he was a firefighter. Cigarettes were free!
3. We can't give out samples, but we do offer plenty of outstanding information, advice, and discount coupons for Nicorette or NicoDerm CQ.
2. No. The NicoDog's only vices are chasing cats and stealing cheese.
1. Fortunately, the people who ask this question laugh hysterically and don't need any response from us.

Mark & Megan

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