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How to Support Someone Who is Trying to Quit Smoking

Updated on March 7, 2019

Do you have a friend or family member who has stated he/she wants to quit smoking? Have they told you this hoping you will support them and help them to quit?

Then don’t ruin your opportunity to make a difference by doing or saying the wrong things to the courageous soon to be ex-smoker.

I always hold smokers who want to quit in the highest esteem. What they want to undertake is beyond hard.

 In most cases the addiction to nicotine has become like a one-sided friendship of the harmful variety. As is true with many unhealthy friendships, It is a relationship that is difficult to severe and once severed it is a relationship that is difficult to keep at a distance, as this horrible version of a friend, is always waiting and anxious to get involved in your life once again

It is difficult when you realize you must keep a safe distance from someone that you love. You are always hoping there is room for compromise until finally that day comes when you realize a total break is the best for all concerned, especially for you.

Nicotine has become that traitorous friend for hundreds of thousands of good-intentioned people.

Here’s what to avoid doing or saying if you want to help someone to quit smoking for good.

Avoid Discouraging Words

“I liked you better when you were smoking.”

What a big no-no, even though they are words uttered so often to someone who wants to quit smoking but is finding the withdrawal and craving too much to handle.

While it is true the smoker may be exhibiting unacceptable behavior being short-tempered, impatient, depressed, or downright grumpy. Do you really want to be that person who encourages them to smoke again? 

 Can you not hang in there with the person for a few weeks while they try to withdrawal and end a potentially life-threatening habit?

"You failed again!"

Well that's obvious, do you really need to state the obvious? How is it helping the smoker, since it is akin to being told, 'I told you so'?

This type of attitude can be grouped into any type of nagging, lecturing, or demoralizing comments from family members, mates, or friends.

Don't go there, no matter how disappointed you may be that the smoker has had a slip.

Gather yourself and sincerely encourage the smoker with words like these: "I know it is hard, but I think you can do it if you try again." Don't forget to throw an "I'm so proud of you" every so often as well.


Avoid Discouraging Actions

Although this covers behavior that should fall into the common sense category of what not to do or say, too many engage in teasing or testing the will of someone trying to quit. Some think it is done in jest and is funny, but it is hurtful to the willpower and determination of someone trying to bare-knuckle it through the height of the nicotine withdrawal.

What is needed is an awareness of the fact that there is a time to laugh and a time to keep from laughing. In other words, testing someone who is trying to quit is heartless. Don't do it!

Don't Smoke In Their Presence

That just borders on cruelty to light up a cigarette and puff on it while your friend or family member is trying to quit the habit.

Surely you can find some other place to smoke while in their presence, can you not?

Are you a good enough friend to endure the inconvenience your friend's quitting is causing you?  If you answer no to this basic friendship test, then you might not be any better than the cigarette is for your companion.  Prove your worth, remember not to smoke if you are with someone trying to quit.


Become A Cheerleader

 Rather than engaging in negative actions, be that special friend who is a great means of support for the smoker. Be their personal cheerleader who only offers encouraging and supporting words that strengthen the will power.

Can the smoker call you on the phone when a distraction is needed in order not to smoke? A phone buddy is essential for the majority of people trying to quit. Make yourself available to those close to you who are trying to quit.

Don't allow a pessimistic attitude to engulf the smoker. It is easy to become negative if while in the withdrawal phase the smoker relapses and begins smoking again. Imagine if you reinforced the "I'm too far gone" attitude exhibited by agreeing with the smoker. Or if you remind them just how long they have smoked without being able to quit. Which would just make them feel it is an impossible mountain to climb.

Even a cliché spoken with love would be better than throwing in the towel with your friend.

So always cheer them on regardless of failures that must be overcome.

How Long Will You Be Needed?

It is hard to say how long you will need to be long-suffering.

Nicotine withdrawal usually peaks 3 days after the last cigarette is smoked and should subside in two weeks.  But even during this time of subsiding withdrawal, the cravings will come in waves.

Smokers have noted that even years later, out of the blue, they may feel a sudden urge to smoke. When your friend needs you, encourage them to wait 5 minutes for the craving to subside.

When suffering symptoms, remind the smoker that they (the symptoms) will usually subside in 2-4 weeks.


If round numbers are easier to focus on, make it a month from the time the last cigarette is smoked, to the time when cravings and withdrawal symptoms will become more manageable.

Remind the smoker the countdown has begun with only 29 . . . . 28 . . .  27 . . . more days to go.

Always remind them there is light at the end of their tunnel. A healthier life is just ahead.

When All Is Said and Done

After all is said and done, it boils down to the will power of the smoker and the ability to not accept defeat even if a slip is made.  There are things smokers should do to help themselves, but since this article is about what others can do to assist smokers, it won't be included in this writing.

Be a good and supportive friend so that you can look back with no regrets when your friends or others come to you for help to quit smoking.


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    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      9 years ago from Delaware

      sasha, congrats on quitting and staying free from the tobacco. I am sure your friend will benefit from your support. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Im happy to join the hub. I have a friend who is struggling with quitting smoking, and want to help her as best possible. I quit some 5 years ago and dont miss it AT ALL!

    • vee1477 profile image


      10 years ago from PA

      So very very hard to quit smoking.

    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      10 years ago from Delaware

      Great point Tom, I totally agree. Thanks for sharing.

    • Tom T profile image

      Tom T 

      10 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I'm not a smoker but both my parents smoked. I remember when my dad quit. You did not want to be around for a couple weeks. Made me know I didn't want to take up the habit. My point is you may be able to use the nobility of being an example to children or others as another motivating factor.

      All in all, this hub is some great advice for anyone who is trying to make any kind of big change in their lives. Thanks for the share.

    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      10 years ago from Delaware

      Thanks again, Dr irum!

    • Dr irum profile image

      Dr irum 

      10 years ago

      i am not smoker but nice tips to cease smoking .

    • bushraismail profile image


      10 years ago from ASIA

      GREAT just GREAT. some things are fun but humans are intelligent enough to know right from wrong. but some foooools gono brains. great hub.

    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      10 years ago from Delaware

      Well of course I do, who do you think told me about the two weeks to begin with? LOL I had one other friend who wanted to quit so needed info and currently my dear brother-in-law wants to try to quit his 40 year old habit. I hope he is also able to quit like you and so many others have done. He knows I am his personal cheerleader and he is glad to have me on his team. My job is easy though, it's quitting that requires the real work. Glad you are still smoke free, BTW!

    • Inner Harmony profile image

      Cindy Weyant 

      10 years ago from Costa Mesa, California

      This is really well-written. I used to smoke, if you remember, but I have since quit! Once I got past the initial 2 weeks of cravings it got much easier. Now I can smell again, lol. It's a habit that is easy to fall into, and very easy to rationalize, especially if you are suffering from something like MS. I'm glad you shared this with us, thank you.

    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      10 years ago from Delaware

      Smoke free for 30 years? Congrats 2besure. I'm glad you enjoyed this article.

    • 2besure profile image

      Pamela Lipscomb 

      10 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Encouraging hub! I quit smoking over 30 years ago. I still remember how difficult it was. Voted up.

    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      10 years ago from Delaware

      Thanks hair2nv, pleasure to meet you.

    • hair2nv profile image


      10 years ago from Huntsville, Alabama

      Great hub very useful info, I am a smoker(sad face).

    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      10 years ago from Delaware

      oscillationatend, love the user name! I'm glad you agree with what is written here and that when you try to quit you will have a strong support team in your corner.

    • oscillationatend profile image


      10 years ago from a recovering narcissist.

      One of these days I may stop smoking, and I agree--being supportive is the best thing you can do, no matter how many attempts are made by an individual.

    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      10 years ago from Delaware

      Hi writer83, I truly appreciate the hardship you are enduring. I know of people who have smoked all their lives and successfully quit. Triggers can be combated by changing your routine, especially at the beginning of the withdrawal. Remembering the desire to smoke will return, also prepares you mentally for the lifelong battle that will take place. I hope you find a successful way that works for you and that you keep trying until you do.

    • writer83 profile image


      10 years ago from Cyber Space

      Jen I loved reading your hub. I have battled with cigarettes for years, I actually have the belief that once you start - it's with you for life. I started smoking in my school days - then stopped, yet to star again !! - and anytime I have a few glasses of wine, or drink coffeee I am left craving for a cigarette - when I get stressed, the same applies I'm sad to say I am still battling with 'giving up' I'd like to say I had gave up - but can't.

      I think it's well and truly with you for life.

    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      10 years ago from Delaware

      Thanks Nancy! :-)

    • nancy_30 profile image


      10 years ago from Georgia

      This is really great advice. Thank you for sharing it.

    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      10 years ago from Delaware

      Thanks Ladybird, glad the info was useful.

    • Ladybird33 profile image


      10 years ago from Fabulous USA

      I have smoked, many moons ago but this helps me with friends and family. thank you, it's GREAT info.

    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      10 years ago from Delaware

      Raven1001, great to read of your success and the wisdom you use this time around so that you won't feel you should reward yourself. I can see how one smoke would be very tempting and seem harmless. Keep up the good work.

      marieryan thanks so much. I try to imagine giving up something I enjoy like chocolate, and how hard that would be, daunting is a word that seems most fitting. Thanks for leaving your comment.

    • marieryan profile image

      Marie Ryan 

      10 years ago from Andalusia, Spain

      This was very sensitively written.

      We should never under-estimate the power of support. Giving up smoking is a daunting task. If you can find someone sympathetic to your situation, it can be a great help.

    • Raven1001 profile image


      10 years ago from Washington

      I've been smoke free for around two months now and I feel like it's going to stick. I've tried twice before but that was because someone else wanted me to, so it's probably not a big surprise that it didn't last. This time I actually want to quit for myself, so here's hoping!!

      And something I've tried this time to help.... I have not kept track of how long its been since I quite. It's weird I know, but when I did track it, after a couple of weeks or after a month I found myself thinking " See how long its been? I should reward myself with just 1 smoke!" Needless to say this is not conductive to quiting.

    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      10 years ago from Delaware

      HUGE congrats to you Faye! I hope you don't mind me adding your hub here if you have one available. Inspiration is so important. Well done! Please send me a link at your convenience.

    • Faybe Bay profile image

      Faye Constantino 

      10 years ago from Florida

      This is great Jen! I wish someone in my circle of friends had read this three weeks ago! I am so glad that I quit, and now I am passing on my knowledge of the quitting and staying a non-smoker to others. This is an excellent hub, because people don't realize that nagging or belittling the smoker has the opposite affect. Make them feel like they can do it, but also that failure is no reason to stop trying. There used to be a study, that I can't find now, and it said the average smoker may quit from 15 to as many as 40 times, before they can quit for good. Only 5% of cold turkey quitters succeed permanently.

    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      10 years ago from Delaware

      Good point Paradise. For some any change means moving on without the person who is insecure. Keep everything the same and no one moves away. Selfish but effective I suppose.

    • Paradise7 profile image


      10 years ago from Upstate New York

      Very good hub, and it applies to more than could apply to dieting, too. I know a lot of people are undermined by their loved ones, for some reason, when they go for a healthy change. I think the loved ones feel a change is vaguely threatening, or something.

    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      10 years ago from Delaware

      Thank you both billyaustindillon and ethel. It is hard to show the right amount of understanding when you have never been addicted, but I'm sure you won't make the same mistakes twice, billy.

      ethel, so glad you quit and like you I hope your husband will follow your example in the near future.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      10 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      I stopped more than 20 years ago but Hubby still smokes. Until he really wants to he will not have the necessary will power. I live in hope though

    • billyaustindillon profile image


      10 years ago

      A very good hub, though I have never smoked many people close to me have and this a great reminder of all I did wrong as they chose to give up. A great resource Jen.

    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      10 years ago from Delaware

      Glad you found it useful Lalitha, thanks for the comment.

    • profile image

      Lalitha V Raman 

      10 years ago

      Hi! A nice article. Though I have never indulged in any of the vices, it is an interesting output, which will help me to help my friends.

    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      10 years ago from Delaware

      Thanks for that inspirational comment Connie! So good to see you. Your will power has been tested for sure, with Lexi's trials, I'm so glad your choice to live is so strongly motivated.

    • Connie Smith profile image

      Connie Smith 

      10 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida

      Having respiratory FAILURE is a great incentive to quit smoking. It worked wonders for me. I knew I had to quit smoking, but kept putting it off until it was almost too late for me. I was only seconds from death. Before that day, I had said at least a dozen times that if I didn't quit, I was going to be dead. I almost was. Still, every now and then, I get a sudden urge out of nowhere. I have heard that being addicted to cigarettes is like being addicted to heroin. I believe it.

      The person has to want to quit for their own reasons and nagging someone is NOT going to help. I also think that many people are going to fail a few times before they are successful, as so many people have. Do not feel like a failure. It is one of the hardest things I have ever done. The only thing that keeps me from taking it back up is that I love my grandchildren so much and they need me so much right now. I said from the beginning that if I decided to smoke again that I was choosing death. I decided that I want to live!

    • Jen's Solitude profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen's Solitude 

      10 years ago from Delaware

      Same here Sandyspider, thanks for the comment.

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      10 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      I have never been a smoker. But I have supported those willing to quit. Nice informational hub.


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