How to Help a Loved One Stop Smoking
Let’s get serious for a minute: the thought of losing a loved one – be it a family member, significant other, or a friend – at any stage in life is a devastating one. Yet, for those of us who have loved ones who regularly smoke this is a frightening reality that could come much sooner than it needs to. Use of traditional tobacco products such as cigarettes is accountable for more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States, and continue to lead the way as the most prevalent cause of preventable deaths. In fact, according the World Health Organization, tobacco kills half of all those who smoke it, which should be enough to make anyone think twice before lighting up.
Having said that, stopping a tobacco addiction is far from easy. As scary as the stats are, addiction is a chemical response that often takes more than sheer willpower to beat. Support from your loved ones can make a huge difference to how successful an attempt to move away from cigarettes and there like, and if you’re somebody who has someone important you want to help along this worthy journey, there are various ways you can boost their moral and encourage them to stick at it when it gets tough.
Encouragement Tips To Help Them Quit
Statistics have shown that couples who quit together are more likely to succeed. A study at UCL showed that women were 50% more likely to stay away from tobacco products if they quit at the same time as their partners, compared to just 8% who managed to kick the habit while their partners continued to smoke regularly. Similar results were also found in male participants. Cancer Research UK part funded the study, and their head of health information, Dr Julie Sharp, spoke out about the importance of support when it comes to making important changes to lifestyle such as quitting smoking, “Getting some support can help people take up good habits. For example, if you want to lose weight and have a friend or colleague who’s trying to do the same thing you could encourage each other by joining up for a run or swim at lunchtime or after work.”
However, if you aren’t a smoker, there are still plenty of ways you can help your loved one to quit, as suggested by the American Cancer Society:
- Ask the person how they are feeling, but don’t argue with them about being grouchy! Unless it’s their usual state, grouchiness is probably down to withdrawal. This is a chemical reaction and normally only lasts around two weeks, so be patient with them.
- Offer to spend time together doing things to keep their mind from wandering to cigarettes. Go for a walk, watch a film, or whatever else it is you like to do together.
- Wash any clothes that smell of tobacco, as this might set off a craving. If they smoke indoors, do the same for soft furnishings, and even giving upholstery in vehicles a clean can help.
- Prepare some carrots and celery sticks or nuts for the person. It might not sound that appetising – but this will enable them to mimic the hand to mouth action they are used to, and will help dull the urge to binge on unhealthy food as their appetite returns.
- Help relieve them of any additional stresses. Offer to do things you know they don’t enjoy or don’t have time for – think cooking, cleaning, or babysitting.
- Mark milestones such as a week or a month without smoking with something special. Planning ahead also give something to aim towards and look forward to.
- Let the person know that you care about them regardless of what happens. Being positive, even if they slip up, makes them more likely to try again.
Whilst some may be strong willed enough to go cold turkey, you can help your loved one in their attempt to stop smoking by discussing possible cessation aids. Whilst the benefits of e-cigarettes as a less harmful alternative to tradition tobacco products are still being debated in America, across the pond there is a strong movement to promote vaping as a potentially answer to tobacco addiction. Ann McNeill, professor of Tobacco Addictions at King’s College London, stated “In my view, smokers struggling to stop should try all possible methods, including electronic cigarettes, to help them to do so”. This is a sentiment shared by New York Times science reporter Sabrina Tavernise, who slammed attitudes in America as a disservice to the bigger picture of public health.
If you’re looking to help a loved one stop smoking, have a conversation about what aids or methods they might like to use, the pros and cons of each options and what works best for their lifestyle.
Are you thinking about helping a loved one stop smoking, or did you have support in your journey? Let us know in the comments below, or share you story on social media.