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Helping someone quit

There are many things you can do to help someone who is trying to quit smoking. Find out how you can help them decide to quit and support them along the way.

How do I help someone decide to quit?

It's hard to watch someone you care about smoke when you know it’s damaging their health. However, smokers need to decide to quit because they realise it will benefit them, not because someone else wants them to. They might stop smoking for your sake, but they won't stay smoke-free unless they're doing it for themselves.

You can still help them decide to quit, and support and encourage them once they have quit smoking. Here are some strategies you can use and questions you can ask yourself.

If you are an ex-smoker

  • Remember, the reasons people have for smoking and the things that trigger their smoking are different for everyone.
  • What helped you quit may not work for your friend or family member.
  • Encourage them to try different methods until they find what works best.

If you are a smoker

  • How can you influence your friend if you don't change your own smoking habits?
  • Are you willing to change too, either cut down or not smoke in front of them?
  • Have you thought about joining them — it's easier when you have a quit buddy.

If you have never smoked

  • Learn about addiction to smoking, and understand that quitting can be very difficult, especially in the early days.
  • Smokers often feel conflicted about their smoking — they want to stop, but part of them wants to keep smoking. Be sympathetic.
  • Don't become involved in arguments about smoking — disagreements only make smokers more defensive and more likely to insist on their right to keep on smoking.

Show that you care

How can I help someone succeed?

If you want to make sure you're helping, not hindering, follow these tips.

Be positive

If your friend slips-up, encourage them to put it behind them and focus on the reasons why they want to quit. If they go back to full-time smoking, remember that most smokers make several attempts before they are able to stop completely.

Every attempt is a step in the right direction and will make it easier for them to stop next time around. Being critical, however, can put them off trying again.

Be supportive

Plan how you can offer practical help. For example, you could:

  • help them avoid tempting situations, like pubs or parties
  • suggest activities that are smoke-free such as dinner at a restaurant, going to the movies, or a play
  • join them in some exercise

Be around

Sometimes, a person who's trying not to smoke just needs someone to talk to. Listen to what they have to say, without commenting and remember, it's not about you.

Find more tips on helping someone to quit on the Quit website.

Last updated: 
2 April 2019

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