How To Help Someone Quit Smoking


Key points

  • You can help someone quit smoking by offering support and practical tips.
  • Only the smoker can follow through with the decision to quit. It's his or her choice and challenge. You can help by giving the person support.
  • Most smokers don't succeed the first time they try to quit. This is called relapse. If the person begins smoking again, don't be disappointed or make the person feel guilty. Instead, help him or her think about trying to quit again.

Family and friends are an important source of support and motivation for a person who is trying to quit smoking.

Before offering help, ask if it's okay to help, and then ask what you can do. Don't assume that the person wants your help or that you know the best way to help.


Give support

  • Give the person support. Let the person know that you're willing to talk or visit anytime he or she wants you to. When the person meets a quit-smoking goal, congratulate him or her. Treat him or her to a movie, or give a small gift.
  • Ask the person if you can check to see how he or she is doing.
  • Many smokers like to have something in their mouths. Keep a supply of hard candy, cut-up vegetables, or toothpicks in your home to offer to the person.
  • Ignore grouchy moods. No matter how grouchy a person gets, continue to support him or her. If you don't offer support, the person may use your lack of care as an excuse to smoke again.
  • Tell the person about the good changes you see. For example, tell the person that he or she is not as short of breath.
  • Don't check up on the smoker, such as looking for ashtrays or sniffing for smoke.

Help with avoiding triggers


Smokers usually have triggers, which are things that make them want to smoke. You can help a smoker avoid these.

  • Ask about the person's triggers, and see if you can help him or her avoid them. For example, if the person always smoked during a coffee break, see if you can call him or her to talk at this time.
  • Do things together, such as going to movies or on walks. Activity may help the person think less about smoking and decrease nicotine cravings.
  • Alcohol is often a trigger. If possible, keep the person away from places where alcohol is used.
  • Help out with daily tasks, such as shopping or cooking. This could help relieve stress, which is a major trigger for smoking.

Help someone who relapses


Most people need more than one try to stop smoking. If the person slips up, let him or her know that it's okay and that you still care.

  • Give the person credit for whatever length of time (days, weeks, or months) that he or she didn't smoke.
  • See what you both learned from the attempt. Are there any triggers to look out for? Should the person try phone counseling, medicine, or nicotine replacement therapy?
  • When the person smokes again, it may be a one-time slip. Remind your friend about how long he or she had gone without smoking and why he or she wanted to quit in the first place.
  • Tell the person that it was right to try to quit, and urge him or her to try to quit again. Use positive language, such as "when you try again," not "if you try again."






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