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Help someone quit smoking

Want to help someone quit smoking?

If a family member, friend or co-worker has decided to quit smoking, they will need your help. A good support system can help someone who smokes get through withdrawal symptoms and stay motivated.

It will be difficult. Most people quit a few times before they quit for good. If your friend starts smoking again, help them make a plan to avoid relapse on the next try. Offer reassurance that you will be there for them until they quit for good.

The person who smokes needs to be ready to quit but your support can really make a difference in their success.

You can:

  • Listen to them and acknowledge that quitting is difficult.
  • Give extra encouragement when your friend is in withdrawal.
  • Encourage your friend to join a support group.
  • Go for a walk or run or participate in another fitness activity with your friend.
  • Celebrate successes along the smoke-free journey.

Be there along the way

  • Let your friend know you are available to listen when they need it. Be there for support at times when they would normally reach for a cigarette, such as after a stressful work day or at a party.
  • Call or text your friend periodically throughout the day to check in and send supportive messages.
  • Offer praise for getting through a day, a week or a month without smoking. Reward your friend by going for lunch or to a movie, run an errand for them or send flowers.

If your friend smokes again, don’t make them feel guilty. Offer encouragement and let them know most people have to try more than once before they quit forever. Help your friend figure out why they smoked and what to do next time to curb the urge.

Helping conquer challenges
You can help your friend manage the challenges that come with quitting smoking.

Weight gain
Many people gain weight when they quit smoking. Avoiding overeating, eating healthy foods and exercising is the best way to control any weight gain. You can:

  • Offer healthy snacks, such as carrots, nuts, popcorn or sugar-free gum.
  • Get active together–go for a walk or bike ride or play tennis

The people who are most successful when quitting have a plan for when they have an urge to smoke. You can brainstorm together what to do in situations where they would normally smoke.  Encourage them to switch up their routine and find healthy alternatives, for example, if they usually smoke after dinner, encourage them to go for a walk instead.

Withdrawal symptoms
Many people experience withdrawal symptoms after they quit. These include difficulty sleeping, trouble concentrating and feeling anxious. Remind your friend these symptoms will go away as the nicotine leaves their body. Your friend may also become irritable during this process. Remember this is not an easy journey, be patient and hang in there.

Quit smoking resources
Let your friend know about the resources that are available to help them quit.

The Lung Association’s smoking cessation workbook, Journey 2 Quit is a guide through the necessary steps towards a healthier life and better breathing.

Our certified respiratory educators provide smoking cessation counselling. The N-O-T on Tobacco (N-O-T) program is a voluntary youth tobacco cessation program created specifically for young people (aged 14-19) who want to quit. For information on these programs, call the Lung Health Information Line at 1-888-344.LUNG (5864) for information.