Do’s & Don’ts for Friends and Family of a Quitter
A little support can make a big difference.
- Do remember that the quitter is in charge. Quitting has to be their decision.
- Do let them know you are there for them. Be an encouraging, positive voice.
- Do things that will keep their mind off smoking (go for a walk or bike ride, go to a movie, play a game).
- Do help the quitter with things that can make them stressed (cleaning, cooking, child care).
- Do celebrate along the way. Quitting is hard and every milestone is a big deal.
- Don’t judge, scold or nag the quitter. This can make them feel bad about themselves.
- Don’t offer advice. Ask them how you can help.
- Don’t take it personally if they’re grumpy with you. Nicotine withdrawal can affect their mood.
- Don’t be critical if they slip. Quitting smoking usually takes several tries. Think of it as your loved one “learning to quit.”
Want a friend or family member to quit? Here are three approaches that can work:
LISTEN FOR CUES
Respond positively and ask questions if they bring up:
- The doctor
- Pregnancy (their own or someone they live with)
- Kids asking about tobacco or quitting
CREATE AN OPENING
Start a conversation by asking if they have thought about quitting. You can ease into it by talking about:
- An anti-tobacco ad you saw
- A story you heard about someone dealing with a tobacco-related disease
- Rules about where smoking is allowed
Ask questions that don’t have yes or no answers. This will help you understand your quitter and identify how you can support them. Find out:
- What stresses them out
- How long they have smoked/how they started
- What their cravings and triggers are
- The reasons they may want to quit
- What kind of help they want from you
De-stress and Self-care
Helping someone quit can be stressful. It’s easier to help someone when you’re feeling your best. Here are some ideas of how you can take time for you.
- Read a book.
- Take a bubble bath.
- Take a leisurely walk.
- Do yoga.
- Go to bed early.
- Bake something.
- Watch the sunrise or sunset.
- Sit on the porch. Just sit.
- Look at the stars.
Kids and Quitting
Addiction is hard to understand—especially for kids. Here are ways they can help support their loved one:
1. Talk to them about how quitting is hard and can make the quitter grumpy or moody; it’s not their fault.
2. Kids can help a quitter avoid cravings and triggers by being a distraction—with things like going for regular walks or inviting them to play time.
3. Bring them in on the fun. Have them help celebrate the milestones with cards, treats, etc.
4. See if they want to take a pledge to never smoke.
5. Encourage them to tell their loved one how happy they are that they’re quitting.