Do’s and Don’ts


Here are some do’s and don’ts for friends and family of a quitter:

Do remember that the quitter is in charge. Quitting has to be their decision.

Do let them know you are there for them.

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 are grumpy with you. Nicotine withdrawal can make a person grumpy.

Don’t be critical if they slip. Quitting smoking is hard and usually takes several tries.

For more do’s and don’ts, please visit the American Cancer Society:

Talking Quitting with Your Quitter

Want a friend or family member to quit? Not sure how to talk to them about it? Here are 3 approaches that can work:

Listen for Cues

Respond positively and ask questions if they bring up:

  • Quitting
  • The doctor
  • Pregnancy (them 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 something tobacco related like:

  • An anti-tobacco ad you saw
  • A story you heard of someone dealing with a tobacco related disease
  • Even rules about where smoking is allowed

Ask Questions

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

For more information or additional things to say check out the “Start the Conversation” section on


Distractions fall into two categories: activities and tools. They are important because they can keep a quitter’s mind off 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:
    • Gum or hard candy
    • Straws or toothpicks
  • Downloading aps like games on a phone
  • Healthy snack like carrot sticks
  • Something to keep their hands busy:
    • Stress ball, keys, pocket knife