Helping someone quit smoking is probably one of the best things you can do in your life. It’s rewarding for them, but also rewarding for you knowing you’ve helped someone be a healthier and happier version of themselves.
Ultimately the decision to quit smoking must be made by the smoker. Friends, family and colleagues can play an important role in helping a person to quit, but the hard work needs to be done by them. But someone who feels supported in their quit journey is more likely to quit for good.
So how can you assist someone in the quitting journey? Well here’s a bunch of dos and don’ts to get you started:
- Be respectful. The quitter is in charge. Support should always be positive and non-judgemental.
- Be supportive and encouraging. Try and stay upbeat and let them know that you are there to listen if they want to talk.
- Offer distractions. Spend time with the quitter and make suggestions of things they can do to keep their mind off smoking. Activities could include going to the movies, taking a walk or joining a class to learn something new.
- Make sure they have a supply of healthy snacks on hand to use as a distraction or to ensure weight gain is minimised. Good suggestions include fresh veggie sticks, sugar-free gum or mints.
- Make your house and car smoke-free. Smoke-free spaces provide the quitter with a supportive environment. Making smoking inconvenient will assist them with cutting back and quitting.
- Remove smoking materials from your home. Remove lighters, matches, ashtrays and anything else that reminds the quitter of smoking.
- Spring clean. Wash any clothes and furnishing that smell like smoke and clean your home to make it feel fresh and remove any smoke residue.
- Help them come up with strategies for dealing with cravings. Suggestions include taking a walk, squeeze a stress ball, have a healthy snack, call a friend or have a glass of water.
- Help the quitter to manage stress. Help the quitter with normal tasks to ensure their level of stress is manageable. Talk to them about strategies for managing stress and help them come up with their own list of things to do when they feel stressed such as exercise or listening to music.
- Celebrate successes. Recognise both big and small milestones. Even being smoke-free for a day is a huge success. Give them a card or some flowers or go on an outing together to celebrate milestones. Quitting smoking is a big deal!
- Suggest they go online or try an App. They can set up their own My quit journey here or visit the Quit Now website. There’s also Apps like My QuitBuddy and Quit for you – Quit for two.
- Suggest they talk to a health professional. Or call Quitline (13 7848) for advice and strategies to support quitting.
- Suggest they discuss using medication or nicotine replacement therapies. They can speak with their doctor or a Quitline counsellor about medications and nicotine replacement therapies that can help someone who is quitting to cope with their cravings.
- Suggest they see how much they could save. Try the Cost calculator tool and encourage them to consider what they would like to use that money for.
- Encourage them to avoid or limit alcohol. It helps to avoid alcohol for the first few weeks of quitting as for many smokers it will trigger a craving.
- Encourage them to cut caffeine intake. Reduce coffee, tea or other caffeinated drinks in half as caffeine has a stronger effect when a person stops smoking.
- Let them know that you are there for the long haul. Cravings and setbacks can happen weeks or months after quitting. Continue to support them and offer distractions to help them stay quit.
- Lecture them. Lecturing or nagging the quitter won’t help them and it may put you on their bad side. Pressure from friends and family can make quitting more difficult.
- Take the quitters grumpiness personally. This is part of their withdrawal and it will not last forever.
- Question the smoker’s ability to quit. Your faith in them will help them reach their end goal.
- Get disheartened. If they are not successful first time it’s ok. Quitting smoking can take multiple attempts. Encourage them to try again.
What if your quitter starts to smoke again?
Encourage them to learn from their quit attempt and try to quit again. It can take multiple attempts to quit smoking successfully. Make sure you praise them for trying to quit smoking and encourage them to try to again.