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How do I help someone decide to quit?

It's difficult to watch someone you care about smoke their lives away. However, smokers need to make the decision 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 stopped unless they're doing it for themselves.

This doesn't mean you can't help. You can influence a smoker's behaviour and can assist him or her in making the decision to quit, and you can provide support and encouragement once he or she has stopped smoking.

Helping the smoker decide

Your friend or family member could do with your help if they are to become a nonsmoker.  But you have to offer real assistance, rather than nagging, preaching, smugness or criticism.  You'll be much more helpful if you follow some of these tips.

If you are an ex-smoker, remember that

  • The reasons people have for smoking and the things that trigger their smoking differ from smoker to smoker.
  • What helped you quit may not necessarily work for everyone.
  • It will help to encourage the smoker to try a range of things until they find what is best for them.

If you are a smoker

  • Consider the influence you may have on the smoker if you do not make changes to your smoking.
  • Are you willing to change too? You could either cut down or not smoke in front of them.

If you have never smoked

Don't become involved in arguments about smoking

  • Chances are that underneath the bravado the smoker knows as well as you that smoking is bad for their health, and is becoming less acceptable around others in public places. Disagreements only make smokers more defensive and more likely to insist on their right to keep on smoking.

Show that you care

  • Nagging achieves little and often results in both parties feeling angry. Express your opinion clearly and simply, in a way that shows that you care.

Show your friend a better way

  • How do you deal with your stress or boredom or good and bad feelings? Does your lifestyle provide an image of a nonsmoker that would appeal to your smoking friend?

Let your friend know – tactfully – that there are self-help materials and organisations that can give support to people trying to quit