I get a lot of emails and letters from people concerned about their wife, girlfriend, husband, boyfriend, teenage daughter, teenage son, father, mother. All wanting to know the same thing: how to get someone to stop smoking.
Because very often it is the smoker’s loved ones who actually seem to worry more about the smoking habit. I say “seem to worry more” because very often the smoker is very worried about their smoking habit. They are the ones waking up coughing and in terrible pain, after all. But very often smokers will not seem to be worried. But don’t be fooled. This may just be a coping mechanism.
The first step in trying to get a loved one to stop smoking is the most important step and it’s all about communication.
Talk to them
However, this is easier said than done. Because the last thing you want to do is to stress the smoker or put any pressure on them to quit. This will only make the situation worse. And yet you have to talk. Before we discuss how to talk to a smoker let’s see why we’re talking with the smoker.
What is the purpose of the conversation with the smoker:
- Find out if they want to quit. Try to gauge how important to the smoker it is to give up cigarettes is. It’s essential that there is a desire to quit.
- Find out why they want to quit. This is very important. Eliciting the reasons for giving up shows the smoker the need to do so.
- Find out what has stopped them so far. Have they quit before but relapsed? Or even if not, this will give you fantastic information about what to look out for when they actually try to give up again.
- To offer your help. There is a limit to what you can do but it’s important that you make the smoker aware that you are there for them. You can buy healthy fruit and snacks for them to eat while they’re giving up. You can enjoy certain hobbies together to take place of the smoking, for example exercise.
So, as you can see from the above, the conversation with the smoker is more about listening than talking. This is extremely important. There is a real limit to your ability to persuade the smoker against smoking. The smoker is probably more aware than you of the damaging consequences of their habit and they don’t need to be reminded of them all the time. This can be counter-productive.
That is why it is better to listen to the smoker rather than to preach. Ask the questions “why do you want to give up”, “how will you give up” and “what’s stopped you giving up before” in a non-accusatory manner. You will never get someone to stop smoking by arguing with them. Period. This goes for whoever we’re talking about, a friend, a parent, a kid.
Lead by example
A lot of the advice will center around increasing exercise, eating well, drinking water and meditation. So, it would be a good idea if you practice and show the benefits of leading a smoke free life yourself to show your loved one the way forward.
This will be 10 times more effective than trying to get someone to stop smoking with words. Get someone to stop smoking with actions.
So, increase your weekly exercise routine, purchase and eat healthier foods, drink more water and less alcohol and, if you like, meditate.
Do this in front of the smoker but don’t explain why.
If the smoker asks, you can explain the benefits of exercise, good eating and drinking and meditation. Explain to them how great you feel. But don’t say it’s because you don’t smoke cigarettes. They will put 2 and 2 together!
How to get someone to stop smoking
So the best way to get someone to stop smoking is to listen to them and then indulge in activities and enjoy them in a way that they can’t until they stop smoking.