How to Inspire a Smoker to Quit

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States. Nearly 1 in 5 deaths in the US can be attributed to smoking.

Every year, over 480,000 Americans die of smoking-related causes. 41,000 of those deaths — nearly 10% — are caused by exposure to secondhand smoke.

woman quiting smoking

If somebody you love and care about smokes, it’s only natural to want to convince them to try to quit. But going about it the wrong way will not only be ineffective, but can create animosity between you and can even be a major setback for the smoker’s desire and ability to quit.

What Can Help

Tell Them You’d Like Them to Quit

Approximately 75% of all smokers in the U.S. claim they would like to quit, so, chances are, your loved one has already considered quitting. The first step in inspiring someone to quit is simply, calmly talking to them about quitting. Ask them if they want or wanted to quit, tell them that you are concerned about them and explain why you’d like them to quit.

Chances are, the smoker already knows about how bad cigarettes can be. If not, you can help to educate him by providing appropriate information, books and materials, and pointing out useful websites.

Remember that nagging them will only make them feel bad about themselves and won’t do much towards motivating them to quit. Don’t put too much pressure on them; it doesn’t have to happen right away. After this conversation, give them a couple of days to process the information.

Ask Why They Would Want to Quit

Different people are motivated by different things. Different smokers can have very different reasons for quitting. Some quit smoking for their health, while others may do it for their finances, someone they care about or because they want to look and smell better. Ask them how they think they could benefit from quitting.

You may want to suggest some additional reasons for quitting that you think might be particularly important to them. Ask them what they would need to feel ready to smoke their last cigarette. Encourage them to make a list of their reasons for quitting. This list will be very helpful if they do decide to quit, but it can also be useful to motivate them to cut back or stop smoking at home.

Understand Why It’s Hard for Them 

Many smokers don’t want to quit because they’re afraid of withdrawal, or that quitting will make them gain weight. Perhaps they don’t want their irritability to be a burden on people around them. Maybe it’s because they’ve tried and failed in the past, and they don’t believe they can do it. Ask them what’s keeping them from quitting. Perhaps you can even address some of those fears, but what’s most important is that you listen to them and try to understand them.

Reassure Them That You Will Support Them No Matter What

Quitting is a very stressful experience, and the more stressed-out a smoker is, the harder it will be for him to quit. They need to understand that you care about them regardless of whether they decide to quit or not. You must be ready to accept whatever choice they’re going to make.

If They Decide Not To Quit, Give Them Space

Deciding to quit smoking is not an easy choice to make for an addict. If they decide against it, accept their choice. It’s their life and their decision to make. Constantly pressuring them to quit would be unfair, and ultimatums or forcing a quit date on them will only help drive them away.

Quitting requires willpower that must come from within, so there’s no use in trying to control them to do it. Try to remember why quitting is difficult for them. Perhaps this wasn’t the right time to do it. Give them a couple of weeks or even months before you approach the subject again, but don’t give up on trying to help them.

If They Do Decide To Quit, Offer Help 

If they do decide to quit, congratulate them on taking the first and perhaps most important step toward breaking their addiction. If you’ve never smoked, it may be hard for you to understand what they’re going through. Remember that quitting smoking is a big deal, and show them that you’re proud of them.

Help to educate them on the different methods available for quitting, and help them choose one that will work best for them. If you need additional information, refer to our Quit Smoking for Good guide. Now that you’ve inspired your loved one to decide to quit smoking, learn how to help them succeed by visiting Support Your Quitter.

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