Smoking is a serious and complicated addiction, and quitting is hard. Most people who successfully quit do so only after several attempts, and with a lot of help from family and friends. Here are some ways you can support someone who is trying to quit smoking.
Talk the talk
- Respond positively when your friend or family member makes a comment about quitting. Tell them you think it’s a good idea and you will support them. If you are an ex-smoker, tell them how quitting has helped you.
- Bring up the subject yourself. Ask if they’ve ever thought about quitting.
- Ask questions to help you understand why they started smoking, what makes them crave cigarettes, why they want to quit, and what you can do to help.
- Listen to their answers.
- Don’t judge, nag, preach, tease, or scold.
Walk the walk
- Put together a quit-smoking kit with chewing gum, hard candy, a stress ball, toothpicks, and a water bottle to help your friend or family member deal with cravings.
- Plan smoke-free activities such as taking a walk, watching a movie, taking a class, going to a concert or sporting event, or eating out.
- Help with cooking, cleaning, child care, or other chores that will help them lighten the stress of quitting.
- Celebrate successes – big and small – with compliments, a card, flowers, a gift, or just doing something nice.
Dos and Don’ts
- Do respect that your friend or family member is in charge. This is their lifestyle change and their challenge, not yours.
- Do try to see it from the smoker’s point of view – a smoker’s habit may feel like an old friend that’s always been there when times were tough. It’s hard to give that up.
- Do remove anything from your home and car that’s related to smoking, including lighters, ashtrays, and odors. Wash clothes, carpets, and anything else that smells of smoke.
- Don’t take grumpiness personally during their withdrawal from nicotine. Symptoms usually get better in about 2 weeks.
- Don’t be too hard on them if they relapse or slip. Be positive, understanding, and supportive.
- Don’t smoke around a smoker who is trying to quit. If you can, join them in the effort. It will help them, and it will also help you.