Help Someone Quit

Do you have a tobacco user in your life? Quitting may be their decision, but your help can be the difference. Smokers who have support are more likely to quit for good. Here are some tips and suggestions to help support their attempt to quit.

Smokers who have support are more likely to quit for good

Top Help Tips

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Respect Space

Quitting is hard. Don’t take their bad mood personally. Be there for them but recognize that they don’t need you checking in all the time.

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Reward Milestones

Recognize your quitter at important milestones (one day, one week, one month) with a card, treat, or outing.

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Don’t Nag or Lecture

Nagging and lecturing don’t help and can put you on the bad side of your friend or family member.

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Develop a list of activities that will help them manage their cravings and distract them with smoke-free activities.

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Slips will happen, so don’t be too hard on your quitter if they slip. Help them identify what caused the slip and make plans for their next attempt.

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.”

Talking quitting

Want a friend or family member to quit? Here are three approaches that can work:

Respond positively and ask questions if they bring up:

  • Quitting
  • The doctor
  • Pregnancy (their own or someone they live with)
  • Kids asking about tobacco or quitting

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


Distractions fall into two categories: activities and tools. They are important because they can keep a quitter’s mind off of a craving.
Activities are things you can do, like:

  • Going to the movies, sporting events, concerts
  • Taking a walk, bike ride, hike, or going to the gym
  • Cooking or going out to eat with friends or family
  • Playing games with kids or friends
  • Taking a class to learn a new skill

Tools are things you can help them have on hand to manage cravings. Consider helping them make a “craving survival kit.” It could include:

  • Things to chew, like gum, hard candy, straws, or toothpicks
  • Downloading apps like games on a phone
  • Healthy snacks like carrot sticks
  • Something to keep their hands busy, like a stress ball, keys, or a pocket knife
  • Make your home smoke-free. Remove ash trays, lighters, and things that remind them of smoking.

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.
  • Color.
  • 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.

Supporter Type

Want to help someone quit tobacco? There are four types of supporters. Find out which type you are to get specific tips to support your quitter.

Your loved one asks for help quitting.
Are you more likely to:

Give words of encouragement

Make a quit plan

Create a quitting to do list and timeline

Talk about their decision

To distract your quitter from a craving, would you:

Give them a motivational speach

Find an activity to do right then (dishes, walk) and do it with them

Pick an activity from a list you already made

Go to a yoga class or on a peaceful walk

What best describes you:

Upbeat, anything is possible attitude

Motivational, constructive criticism and tough love are part of every process

Organized, create a plan and timeline to get things done

Easy going, calm in most situations, great listener


Quitting is hard and every quitter needs a cheerleader like you. As a cheerleader you can help your quitter by always encouraging them to keep going, helping them find motivation, and most importantly making them feel loved.


Quitting can be stressful and emotional. You are the person your quitter can talk to about their feelings, help them process the changes, and remind them to take deep breaths. Remember this habit is like a friend and they need your love as they say goodbye.


Quitting requires some planning, and you are the person that can help a quitter pick a quit date, plan for cravings, and research effective tools. Help them get ready for their quit and be there along the way, a plan helps and a loved one helps more.


Quitting is like training; it takes time, practice, and a coach who can motivate the quitter to keep going. You are that coach. You can’t make them quit but you can encourage them, help them get the tools they need, and motivate them to keep trying.

Cravings & Triggers


Helping loved ones stay tobacco-free can include changes in your life as well. Cravings are completely normal; and with your help, they’re more likely to overcome them and quit successfully. High fives are much better than finger pointing.

Help them avoid triggers and you’ll be helping them to stay strong and avoid relapse. This could mean spending time with different friends, not going to your usual hangouts, or changing where you drink your morning coffee. It will be an adjustment for both of you, but your support can make all the difference.

Cravings are completely normal; and with a supporter’s help, they’re more likely to overcome them and quit successfully.

Help Overcome Relapse

Don’t Get Discouraged

Most quitters make multiple attempts before they quit for good. It’s important to not view this as failure – instead, think of it as your loved one “learning to quit.” Help them identify their triggers and make a plan for their next attempt.

People rarely quit on their first attempt. It takes the average person 8 quit attempts. 

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