How Friends Can Help Friends Quit Smoking. Part 1

Posted by Lloyd on July 31, 2012

“I’d really like to get my sister interested in working out with me,” one of your clients tells you. “I think hanging around the fitness center with people who care about their health would help convince her to quit smoking. I probably bug her too much, but what else can I do? I can’t stand watching her smoke herself into an early grave.”

Many nonsmokers feel frustrated when friends and family members continue to smoke, given everything that is known about the dangers of smoking. They beg, implore, nag, berate and even threaten friends and loved ones who smoke, hoping to convince them to kick the habit. Ex-smokers may be especially enthusiastic (and intolerant) thinking, “If I can quit, so can everyone else!”

Concern from friends and family members often contributes to smokers’ decisions to quit, and emotional support from family and friends can be critical in preventing relapses for recent ex-smokers. However, coercive and critical approaches are rarely successful. Such tactics make smokers feel shameful, guilty, inadequate and afraid. They also make smokers more likely to reach for a cigarette to soothe the emotional pain. Instead, try to understand why it is difficult for friends to quit, and encourage quitting in a way that is most likely to bring success, and not ruin a friendship.

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