Understanding tobacco addiction will help you support them. You can read about what being to addicted to cigarettes really means here. Acknowledge that you understand that quitting smoking is hard. The individual may be experiencing unpleasant feelings and discomfort related to withdrawal and your understanding will go a long way. You can read more about withdrawal symptoms and be ready to offer suggestions on alternatives to smoking.
Also, be mindful of what being supportive truly means. Nagging, pestering and focusing on the negatives don’t work for most people and will probably just want to make them smoke more.
Be very positive about the person’s decision to quit smoking. Show them that you’re proud of their decision and that you believe in their ability to quit; you want to empower them and motivate them to take action with quitting. Provide encouragement and praise for any step they take towards being smoke-free. It is also helpful to reward their accomplishments with a nice gesture.
Focusing on the negatives of smoking (scary pictures of diseases and statistics on number of deaths linked to smoking) does not work for many people. Sometimes these “scare tactics” actually have the opposite effect; they create anxiety for the individual and anxiety triggers cravings for a cigarette! While these messages may motivate some people, at the Helpline we find it more effective to focus on the benefits of quitting.
For more information on how to help a friend or family member quit, call the Smokers’ Helpline: 1-800-363-5864