Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the world. Each year, more than five million people (one out of five) die as a result of using tobacco. Smoking kills more people each year than AIDS, alcohol, drug overdoses, car crashes, murders, suicides, and fires combined. That’s the bad news.
Here’s the good news: People who quit smoking immediately reduce their risk of tobacco-related disease, slow down the progression of already established tobacco-related disease, and increase their life expectancy. This is true even when the smoker stops after the age of 65! You can help. Your support can mean the difference between someone simply trying to quit and someone succeeding.
Offer your friend unconditional support while she tries to quit. Your friend does not need hostile confrontation, threats, put-downs, nagging, or preaching. Shaming a smoker is not at all helpful. Build your friend’s ego and work to impart the message that she or he can take control. Remember that smokers must want to quit for themselves, not for anyone else.
Gather a group of supporters. If it is okay with your friend, let him or her other friends know of his/her desire to quit smoking. This will ensure that her environment is supportive of this decision as well.
Listen to you friend. Try to understand what quitting is like for him/her. Encourage him/her to determine what kind of help he/she will need to quit.
Help your friend find his/her motivation. There are lots of good reasons to stop smoking. Help your friend find the one that is most important to him/her.
Cheerlead. Offer praise and encouragement every step of the way. Mean it. Send your friend cards with words of encouragement. Call him/her to tell him/her that you’re proud of his/her efforts.
Laugh often. Use your sense of humor, and help your friend keep a sense of humor as well.
Join in. as a show of moral support; agree to give up something that you really love, like chocolate, TV, alcohol, or coffee.
Make your friend a survival kit. You could include carrot sticks, gum, hard candy, toothpicks, snacks, or games to help him/her get through each moment.
If applicable, share your experience. If you have successfully quit smoking, share your story. Remember that what worked for you may not work for your friend.
Provide tangible incentives. Develop short-term incentives that will work for your friend. For each milestone (for example, a smoke-free day, a smoke-free week, etc.), treat your friend to something enjoyable (good food, good music, and good road trip).
Celebrate. Quitting for good is a momentous achievement. Show your friend that you are proud, happy, amazed, and in awe of what he/she has accomplished. Throw a big party for him/her, or make him/her a commemorative plaque. Do something to honor the end of a long, hard process.
Part of supporting a smoker is encouraging the most effective strategies for quitting. Studies have shown that these five steps, if done from start to finish, will help the smoker quit for good. Share them with your friend.
1. Get ready. Plan to quit. Set a date and change the environment (e.g. get rid of ashtrays; discard unused cigarette cartons, etc.).
2. Get support and encouragement. Tell the important people in your life that you are going to quit and that you want their support. Seek counseling. Connect with a good medical provider.
3. Learn new skills and behaviors. Distraction is the best medicine. Change your routines. Do something – anything – other than smoke.
4. Get medication and use it correctly. Some medications are proven to help you stop smoking and decrease nicotine cravings. Talk with your medical provider about which one is right for you.
5. Be prepared for relapse or difficult situations. Most relapses occur within the first three months of quitting. Don’t be discouraged if you start smoking again. Remember, most people try several times before finally quit.
note: originally posted at Exposeknowledge.com under the same author.