How can I support someone quitting smoking? Tips on supporting a quitter
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Although for non-smokers it may be difficult to imagine, but giving up smoking – cold turkey or not – is indeed pretty difficult.

When your boyfriend, girlfriend, friend or family member is considering quitting smoking, providing positive support is important.  When people around you are supportive of your decision to stop smoking, the likelihood that you will succeed increases.  This time we will discuss how people around you can lend their support and what kind of environment should be created when a family member or loved one starts giving up the habit.


Boost motivation for smoking cessation

supporting smoking family member

When a friend of mine recently said he finally quit smoking, I was actually taken aback – not because he finally gave up a 22-year habit, but because he hadn’t mentioned being on the path toward quitting.  I asked him about why he kept that kind of thing a secret.  His response: he had tried so many times before to quit (and failed) that he felt embarrassed to once again state his resolution and ask for support from others.  He didn’t want to set himself up to disappoint others – and become disappointed by them.

The fact is, while some people can give up smoking by themselves, it is a habit that is difficult for most folks to overcome alone.  It is a two-sided street, though: smokers must feel comfortable in stating their desire to quit, and friends and family must have their back.  No matter how many times they have attempted to stop smoking in the past, providing encouragement and helping support their motivation is essential.

Here are some examples of what you can do to help boost a smoker’s motivation to quit.


Give a present

Setting milestones is a good way to start.  When the quitter reaches a particular milestone (e.g. 1 week quit, 30 days quit), it may be good to give a small gift or treat to celebrate.  This can have the effect of reinforcing their effort in a positive way.  Although surprise gifts can be fine, letting them know in advance what you intend to give or do can provide added incentive to endure.


Positively praise

Ex-smokers are less likely to be evaluated for the fact that they are putting the habit behind them.  Despite the initial “hey, that’s great” and similar positive words received when a smoker says they will be quitting, often they do not receive much followup.  There are times when an ex-smoker will crave a cigarette, and hearing warm words from others can help them endure.  Especially if the person who’s quit/quitting is a friend, partner or family, actively offering praise and positive words can go a long way.


Help support change

how to support a smokers decision to quitWhile it is important to help bolster a smoker’s motivation to quit and stay quit, it can be necessary to create an environment that helps support their decision.  This may involve you changing your own routine and becoming more conscious of your own behavior as well, taking into consideration the situation and personality of the smoker.


Talk about the future actively

Actively talking about the future, especially when it involves family and children, is important for helping to nudge the consciousness toward quitting smoking and staying quit.  Clearly express why you want the smoker to stay quit – and about how a smoke-free life benefits you both.  If you have kids or are thinking about them, talk about what quitting smoking means to children and their long-lived future.


Do not get close to smoking areas

When eating out, it is also important to consider surroundings carefully.  Be sure to avoid areas that may have other smokers, and be sure to choose environments that are completely smoke-free.  When a smoking environment is in sight, the desire to smoke may be rekindled. Pay close attention when you are together.


When they give up smoking

Even if there is a lot of diligent support around a smoker, giving up cigarettes can still be a very tough and painful process.  Regardless of how much support they receive, smokers will always have the temptation to smoke – and may one day succumb to cigarettes.  (In fact, most ex-smokers were successful only after a half-dozen or so attempts.)  In such a case, how people around them address the smoker becomes important.

In the event you see your friend/partner/family member dragging on a cigarette after their quit day, try to maintain the positive.  Accusing them of having a weak will doesn’t solve the situation and will likely serve just to push them away.  Instead, point to the fact that they made an effort to quit (“You’d been quit for a week – that’s awesome!”) and look forward – together – to their next attempt.  By doing so, a smoker may feel more positive in their attitude and resolve to make that next attempt at smoking cessation stick.


Final word

“Because they are important to me, I would like my mom/dad/girlfriend/boyfriend to quit smoking.”  We all have our reasons for wanting to help someone else quit smoking.  We often wonder what words and actions are appropriate – what shows that we care, without being over-burdensome.  It can be tough sometimes, but when that special someone in your life is trying to quit smoking, you should be as supportive as you can.  By having you there and feeling that “someone is supporting me, pushing my back” is rather encouraging to people who are quitting smoking as well.

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