How to Help Your Partner Quit Smoking
Statistics for Quitting Smoking
Tips to Supporting your Partner
Kicking the habit of smoking can take an extremely intense toll on a person individually, but it can also affect relationships. 15 months ago, my fiancé quit cold turkey – I myself had never been a smoker, so I couldn’t empathize with his experience. All I could do was try to support him the best I could. There was a lot of trial-and error…and error….and error, but I came up with a few strategies to show my support. Although he still struggles to be 100% smoke-free, the following tips were really helpful in my attempts to help ease his struggles.
· Be Supportive – As I mentioned, I’ve never been a smoker, and I really didn’t have any first-hand expertise to offer. So I relied on listening to my fiancé. I talked to him about what he was going through, and I asked him questions about how I could help support him. There were times where I felt completely helpless, but I knew that the best thing I could do was simply be there for him. I was his biggest cheerleader and was there with him every step along the way, and still am!
· Set Small, Obtainable Goals – The ultimate goal is forever, but forever is such a long time away! Start with small goals that are easy to obtain, and from there work your way up. We started with 3 days because statistically, that’s about how long it takes to overcome the chemical cravings. After that, it becomes mind over matter. The next goal was 1 week, then 10 days, 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 1 month, 2 months, etc. We kept track on our calendar – every day he went smoke-free, he got to mark it on the calendar. This gave him a sense of gratification to count each day without cigarettes.
· Calculate the Savings – The national average for a pack of cigarettes is between $4-6. Let’s calculate a $5 pack of cigarettes daily = $35/week; $150/month; and $1825/year. It really only took a few weeks before we noticed that extra little bit of cash that wasn’t being spent on smoking. You may find it more beneficial to apply this money to chipping away at a debt or monthly bill, but you can also consider keeping a cash jar available to stuff away and save those extra $5 bills.
· Celebrate Milestones – Find special ways to celebrate reaching milestones, like having an extra date night or treating them to something they’ve had their eye on. Try something romantic or out of the ordinary to really make it something worth celebrating. DISCLAIMER: Avoid a celebratory smoke. I kind of thought cheating on quitting cigarettes would be like cheating on your diet, like an extra mile on the treadmill meant you could reward yourself with junk food since you’ve been working so hard – ROOKIE MISTAKE! This is where the odds of relapsing grow, which make it increasingly difficult to refrain from old habits.
· Find New Routines – One thing I learned from my fiancé was that the hardest part of kicking the habit was KICKING THE HABIT. He had been smoking for so many years that it had become routine to smoke at certain times – always in the car, always when drinking, always after a meal, etc. Help your partner create new routines, like mints/gum or brushing teeth right after meals. He kept his mind busy by reading on his breaks at work instead of smoking. Different things will work for different people, but the bottom line is to eliminate smoking as being part of daily routines.
· Quit with Them – Make it a team effort so they do not have to do it alone. It’s an important part of being supportive because you’re helping them face it head on, and like with many other things, quitting smoking is much easier to do with a buddy than alone. I didn’t have a smoking habit to give up alongside my fiancé, so I chose a bad habit of mine to give up. This is another “different folks, different strokes” scenario, but I’m sure everyone has something in mind – for me it was stopping for coffee every morning.
I can’t make any guarantees that these are 100% effective for everyone, but I can testify that they worked great for us. I also want to point out that quitting was actually the easy part; maintaining remains to be a struggle at certain times. Having a few drinks or going to the bar is still the hardest part for my fiancé, so I continue to support his decision to forego social engagements from time to time. I feel like the most important thing for him was that I showed genuine support for him and made non-judgmental efforts to help him quit smoking.
Government Resources from the CDC: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- CDC - How to Quit Smoking - Smoking & Tobacco Use
Links to government and other resources with helpful information and strategies on how to quit tobacco use.