Quitting Smoking: Helping Someone Quit
Quitting Smoking: Helping Someone Quit
How can you help someone quit smoking?
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.
If a person asks for
your support, there are many things you may be able to do.
Share your smoking history
It is important to the
person trying to quit to know whether you smoke, are an ex-smoker, or have
- If you have never smoked: Tell the person
that you have heard that it can be very tough to quit. If
you know people who have quit, tell their quit stories. Don't make the person
- If you are an ex-smoker: Tell the person, but don't
brag about it. Say that you know it's tough. And if you had to try many times
before you quit, say so. Talk to the person about how quitting changed your
health and sense of well-being. Talk about how you got through times when you
wanted to smoke again.
- If you are a current smoker: Say so. Let the
person know if you have tried to quit and failed. Tell the person that you
believe he or she can quit. And pledge not to smoke around him or her or leave
cigarettes or smoking supplies around. If you live with the person who is
trying to quit, agree to smoke outside the house or apartment, or limit your
smoking to one room. Better yet, agree to quit with the person.
- 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
- 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
- Ignore grouchy moods. No matter how grouchy a person
gets, continue to support him or her.
- Tell the
person about the good changes you see. For example, tell the person if you notice 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
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
- 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."
There are many resources
available to help someone quit smoking, and they make quitting more likely.
Here are some ideas you can suggest:
- Join a
support group for people who are quitting. People who
have quit or are quitting know what quitters go through and can help
- Join a
quit-smoking program. The person's doctor may be able
to suggest one. You can also find them on the Internet.
- Use the
Internet. The Internet gives you 24-hour access to information about quitting
smoking and to chat rooms that can provide support.
- Get counseling
(by telephone, one-on-one, or in a group). The more counseling a person gets,
the better his or her chances of quitting. Counseling sessions can also help if
the person starts smoking again.
Test Your Knowledge
As soon as you know that your friend has quit smoking,
it's a good idea to jump in to help.
Continue to Where to go from here
Return to Quitting Smoking: Helping Someone Quit
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
John Hughes, MD - Psychiatry
July 6, 2011
©1995-2012, Healthwise, Incorporated, P.O. Box 1989, Boise, ID 83701.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
For more information,
How this information was developed.