Helping your loved ones to quit smoking

Feb 26, 2019

With the right support, a person is more likely to quit smoking forever. That is why friends, relatives and other important people play a crucial role in kicking the bad habit.

Here are several pieces of advice about supporting a person who wants to quit smoking. The more you know, the more you can do to help your loved one.


  1. It is hard to quit smoking
  2. Your relationship
  3. Starting a conversation

Maintaining patience and a positive attitude

The path is long

It is hard to quit smoking

Smoking is not just a bad habit, but a serious addiction. This is why quitting becomes extremely difficult.

Just because a person has decided to quit smoking doesn’t mean they have stopped thinking about cigarettes. In order for the craving to disappear, we need a lot of time and sometimes several attempts to defeat the addiction. Most people who have successfully quit smoking were not alone in their pursuit, they had support from their friends, family and other people.

Your relationship

Your attitude towards smoking can directly affect your loved one. Smoking and quitting, as well the health of you and your loved one, depend upon the nature of your relationship. In order to define it, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you object to your partner smoking around you?
  • Do you argue because of smoking?
  • Do you avoid talking about smoking?
  • Has your attitude towards smoking changed due to any health problems?

Once you figure out the nature of your relationship, it will be easier for both of you to understand what aspects may need to change. This directly affects your attitude towards your loved one’s smoking and their attempts to quit.

You might have to do the following:

  • Appreciate even the slightest achievements of the person who is trying to quit.
  • Refrain from reprimanding them if they slip up and start smoking again.
  • Decide that you have to quit smoking as well.

Many ex-smokers go through several attempts before finally quitting smoking for good. Do not let minor slip-ups make you lose track.

Form a negative attitude towards drugs

Starting a conversation

If you find it hard to instigate a conversation towards the topic of quitting, wait for a favorable occasion. It will be great if you can express your support once you hear your partner say:

  • “I’m thinking about quitting.”
  • “Doctors recommend me to quit.”
  • “I’m pregnant. I’d better quit smoking.”
  • “My wife is pregnant. I’d better quit smoking for her sake.”
  • “My kids are asking questions about my smoking. I’d better quit smoking for their sake.”

Let the person see that you are happy to hear that they would like to overcome the addiction and that you are ready to help. If you used to smoke before, tell them how you quit smoking and how your overall condition consequently improved.

You might say:

  • “I’m so proud that you’ve decided to quit smoking. I’ll help you anyway I can to help you overcome this addiction.”
  • “It will be hard to quit smoking, but I believe in you. Have you already set yourself a deadline for quitting?”
  • “You are not alone. Even if you find quitting hard, I’ll always be by your side.”
  • “Quitting was the best thing I ever did for myself. If you need any advice, just ask.”

Organizing a favorable occasion

If the person does not start a conversation themselves (making your job easier) you might have to create a favorable occasion. Ask them if they have ever thought about quitting. Or, you may try a different approach. For example, you might say:

  • “I heard the news that they are raising the excise on tobacco. Smoking will become more expensive. What do you think?”
  • “I stumbled upon a video yesterday, about a smoker who developed a gum disease and started to lose his teeth. I never knew that smoking could have such consequences. Did you? What do you think about that?”

Asking questions

The right questions will help you understand what the person trying to quit is going through. Make sure that your questions require a detailed answer. You might ask:

  • “What makes you light a cigarette?”
  • “What troubles you?”
  • “Why did you decide to quit smoking?”
  • “What can I do to help you quit?”


It is your loved one, not you, who is trying to quit. Listen to what they have to say. If you have asked a question, remain silent and let them finish their answer. Do not let yourself insert your own comments or answer for them.

After my previous attempts I tried a different approach. I have accepted that I am not perfect. I must never give up.”

– Aleksandra, tobacco-free for 2 years

No reprimanding

Reprimanding, nagging and scolding will not help your friend or relative to quit. This approach will just spoil your relationship, and they will not ask you for help when they really need it.

When you are trying to help someone to quit smoking, you should refrain from doing the following:

  • constantly whining that smoking is bad;
  • counting the number of smoked cigarettes;
  • asking a person if they have been smoking;
  • trying to show that they are irritated because of quitting;
  • scolding a person for having an increased appetite after quitting;
  • sulking if your loved one slips up and has a cigarette.

Switching attention

Support your friend or relative by planning their free time so that they spend it around non-smokers. If you are smoking yourself, do not do this in their company, especially if you have planned a “tobacco-free” event.

It can be a good idea to do the following:

  • going to see a movie (and let them choose);
  • having a stroll in a park;
  • spending time with friends;
  • cooking together;
  • going to a restaurant;
  • photography, cooking or painting workshop;
  • a concert of a favorite band or even an orchestra;
  • a hockey or soccer game, where smoking is prohibited.

There will always be occasions that can lead to a slip up, and the craving does not disappear easily. However, you can help your loved one to overcome it. For example, find some method of distraction until the craving fades away. A strong craving lasts for just a couple of minutes, so it can be a good idea to simply call somebody or create an opportunity for them to use their hands.

You can offer:

  • chewing a gum or a lollipop;
  • play a mobile game or look at photos;
  • hold a match or a toothpick between their teeth;
  • switch tasks to change the surroundings;
  • play with a rubber band;
  • snack on nuts, chips or vegetable sticks;
  • fidget with some toy;
  • take a deep breath and try to relax;
  • drink a glass of water.

It can be a good idea to gather some materials for people trying to quit, which would include several items to distract your partner so that they can have better chances of beating their desire to smoke.

Maintaining patience and a positive attitude

Helping your loved one can be truly tiresome, so it should come as no surprise if you think of letting go of the reins. Try to maintain a positive attitude and do not give up. Even if your loved one says otherwise, they do need your support.

It can be especially hard, since the process of quitting can make a person gloomy and irritable.

If this happens, you should never:

  • take their mood personally;
  • tell them that you could tolerate it when they were smoking, but now they have crossed the line;
  • suggest they start smoking again in the hope to fix that attitude.

Making a decision can be much easier than fully overcoming the craving for smoking. Do not let your loved one give up. Make sure their intentions are serious and show them that they have your full support.

You might say:

  • “Believe me, I know it is hard, and I am proud of your tenacity. Let’s celebrate your progress when we have a chance!”
  • “You might be having a bad day. Let me handle the cooking/children/dishes, and you can have this time for yourself. You deserve it.”

Do not make a  judgment when the person slips up

Your friend or relative could potentially slip up and start smoking at any time. Most likely, they will feel guilty afterwards, and your anger will definitely not help.

Instead, try this:

  • express your confidence that they can still quit, and remind them of their progress;
  • help them to recognize what prompted the desire to smoke, which led to a slip up;
  • help them come up with the ways to fight this desire should it appear once again;
  • ask them if there is anything you could do to help;
  • suggest keeping a diary and marking any events or places that prompt the desire to smoke.

Here is how you should react to a slip:

  • “Everyone slips, do not feel guilty and do not blame yourself. Learning difficult things takes time, and living without smoking is truly difficult. Use this occasion to start again and try to make it right this time.”
  • “You’ve slipped up. Quitting is hard, and many people achieve that only after several attempts. I know you can do it, and I will help.”
  • “Let’s talk about things that prompt you to smoke. This will help you not to slip up next time. Just don’t smoke a new cigarette!”

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

– Winston Churchill

Celebrating small and big victories

Celebrate any small and big victories of your friend or relative. Not smoking for a day, a week or a year is a good reason to celebrate. You can throw away all ashtrays, remove anything that might remind you of smoking, dispose of any opened packs of cigarettes.

Celebrating a success can take any form you wish:

  • sending flowers or a card;
  • preparing a surprise, like the tickets for a show or a concert;
  • give a gift card to a favorite shop;
  • make a homemade dinner.

You can also acknowledge the success with a compliment:

  • “A non-smoking lifestyle suits you well, you look great!”
  • “I look at you and start to think that quitting is easy. You can be proud of yourself—because I already am!”

Relieving stress

Quitting can become a cause for stress, which can in return make a person start smoking again. If you notice that a person is becoming stressed, help them escape the vicious circle and find healthier ways to relieve stress. If you smoke, do not agree to any suggestions of lighting up together: it will simply undo all the progress.

You can suggest ways to relieve stress without smoking, for example:

  • close your eyes and take a deep breath;
  • play with your pet;
  • take a walk;
  • cook a favorite dish;
  • read some funny stories;
  • do yoga or go to gym;
  • go to see a comedy show or watch it on TV;
  • redecorate the house the way you’ve always wanted;
  • enjoy a sunset or a sunrise;
  • solve a crossword puzzle;
  • meet a friend in a café;
  • take a nap;
  • take a bath or a long shower.

The path is long

Hardships don’t stop when a person throws away their last cigarette. The craving might remain for weeks and even months. Ex-smokers often return to the habit within the first three months of quitting.

The reason for that is simple: traditional methods usually offer a temporary and healthier replacement, like a bandage or pills. As a result, the habit does not go away, and even months after quitting a person might smoke again because of that habit.

The secret of defeating a habit lies in changing the mode of behavior. That is exactly what our 7Spsy behavior modification technique does. It is based on behavior psychology and works of I.P. Pavlov.

Our 2-6 week course will help your loved one to stop resorting to cigarettes when they are stressed or bored. He/she will forget about the smell of tobacco, and your loved one will improve their health. You will enjoy life without cigarettes once again.

Whatever happens, let your partner know that your support is not temporary. Continue celebrating milestones and suggest ways to distract, so that your loved one can overcome their craving. It could be that your support is exactly the thing they need to make this attempt to quit smoking into the definitive  one.

Information from this website cannot be used for self-therapy and self-diagnostics. 

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