“How can I get my family and friends to quit smoking?”

“How can I get my family and friends to quit smoking?”

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

03 Aug 2000, 21:58 #1

"How can I get my family and friends to quit smoking?" That is the question I am often asked by successful graduates wishing to help those closest to them achieve freedom from their deadly addiction to cigarettes. Unfortunately, there is no simple solution. Smokers are going to smoke until they are ready to quit. Pestering, threatening, insulting, destroying or hiding cigarettes all cause the smoker to feel resentful and usually result in higher consumption of cigarettes for spite. These are not the methods of choice.

One method which I do suggest is understanding. Smokers do not smoke because they are stupid. They don't smoke because they are mean or obnoxious and wish to hurt their families and friends. They smoke because they are human, and as humans they make mistakes. One that all smokers are guilty of is experimentation with a highly addictive and dangerous drug-nicotine. Many of them took up smoking long before any dangers were known. When they realized the dangers, they may have attempted to quit, but for some it is not easy. They are hooked on a drug, and it will take strong resolve and a support system to overcome the initial difficulties encountered during the quitting process.

The best support which can be provided by significant others is to offer love, patience and understanding, and to try to make the smoker's life as easy as possible over the first few days. The smoker giving up cigarettes may have severe emotional outbursts and be irritable, depressed, and even irrational. These are all the effects of nicotine withdrawal. Many family members and friends will encourage them to smoke rather than act like that. If they were recovering alcoholics, they would not be offered drinks by these people. If they were reacting to chemotherapy they would not be begged to give it up and sacrifice their lives for the family's momentary comfort. Unfortunately, many friends and family members often do not take smoking cessation seriously enough. We are not talking about giving up a simple little annoyance such as biting of nails. We are talking about a powerful and deadly addiction. They are dealing with a real physiological need as well as a strongly ingrained psychological dependence. Offer the most encouragement you can. Be tolerant of their temporary emotional outbursts. They will soon return to normal, and you will have the personal satisfaction of knowing you helped them over one of the greatest challenges of their lives-giving up cigarettes.

While non-smokers may offer their love, patience and understanding, you, as an ex-smoker, have the unique ability to be a highly supportive and credible source to the individual attempting to quit smoking. You knew what it was like to smoke. You know how much nicer it is to go through life as an ex-smoker. Share this knowledge. Be honest-if you still have thoughts for a cigarette, tell them. But clarify what the thoughts are like. If you are a typical ex-smoker, the thoughts occur quite infrequently, and even when they do occur they last only seconds and are just a passing desire rather than a real painful episode such as those encountered during initial cessation.

People giving up cigarettes need to know this natural evolutionary process of smoker to ex-smoker. When they encounter urges after the first two weeks, they are no longer experiencing physical withdrawal, rather they are responding to a psychological trigger. They are experiencing a new situation for the first time without a cigarette. The urge will pass and they will have learned how to face all future similar experiences as an ex-smoker, with no discomfort.

Share with them the information we shared with you during the clinic. Give them the same support that the others in your clinic gave to you. Most important, once smokers give up their cigarettes, offer periodic support to them letting them know you care about them, and always reinforce one concept to guarantee success in their continued non-smoking status-NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!
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Joined: 12 Jan 2009, 23:44

09 Dec 2000, 20:43 #2

THANKS Joel - I appreaciate your dedication to educating us-monica
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

14 Dec 2000, 20:26 #3

For Nomohack:

Hopefully you will be able to utilize this one soon for your wife. When she is ready she will have to be quitting for herself though, she can't do it for you. You can support her but can't make her do it. It has been the same way for you, you had to quit for yourself whether or not she quit and whether or not she would support your effort. Her influence was never a pivotal issue, your quit was for you and needs to always be seen that way. I will bring up one more post that kind of talks about this issue titled Buddy System. Otherwise, I think I have all the issues on the board this morning I wanted to share with you. Let us know if any other way we can help.

Joel
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

27 Jan 2001, 19:26 #4

In honor of Sheila so that others may benefit from her two lessons. First is how she stopped and stayed off for herself and second is how she was able to use her quit to help influence her son's own decision to quit. I hope all here have such exciting residual effects.
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Joined: 09 Jan 2009, 20:48

27 Jan 2001, 20:22 #5

Thanks Joel,
Well I will absolutely take full credit for my own quit. As for how I helped my son, all I ever did was to talk about my quit and how happy I am. I dropped a tidbit of information I had picked up at Freedom every now and then, but only as interesting information. I did not lecture or criticize. I don't even remember if I actually made the suggestion to quit. I may have but in a very tongue in cheek sort of way like. His quit is absolutely his own. He has never been known to listen to what mom said anyway :). What's the word? Oh yeah ...independent...that's what he is! But I can say one thing he does have the brains to quit and I will take all the credit for that. LOL
Very happy quitter,
Sheila
2months3days
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

02 Feb 2001, 21:47 #6

For Rory:

Its great to be able to influence others in their resolve to quit. The best way to help is by setting an example. By not smoking and still living, and I mean still carrying on with your normal life and even smiling every once in a while, smokers around you see that there is life after smoking and may start to recognize that it is a good life.

While your reason for quitting was not the idea of helping others quit, it is just a potential side benefit. Hopefully it will influence those closest to you who still feel that their survival is dependent on smoking. Because the fact the inverse of this logic is true. Survival is really based on not smoking. To keep maintaining maximum health and longer life always remember to remind yourself and to share by example to others around you the simple concept of to stay smoke free you can never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

12 Feb 2001, 22:42 #7

Here Tammy, you may want to pass this along to your daughter, sort of help her see that your reactions are normal even if you are not at the moment. It might spark some interesting conversation too.

Joel
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

22 Apr 2001, 20:50 #8

I thought this one might help too. But keep in mind, you can't make anyone quit any more than anyone was able to make you quit or any more than anyone now can make you smoke now. Quitting is a personal choice. Smoking is not a choice, it is an addiction where choice is overridden by the bodies demand for nicotine. The best influence you can have is by example. You will benefit greatly by not smoking and others will benefit too if they learn the lessons from you that there is life after smoking and the way to keep that life is by remembering to never take another puff!

Joel
Joel's Reinforcement Library


Individual Approaches Used to
Motivate Smokers to Quit


Every now and then, someone informs me of an original technique they devised or heard of to help motivate family and friends to quit smoking or to at least consider getting outside assistance to break free from this deadly addiction. I feel that since the majority of people who have given up smoking have done so on their own without any professional intervention, these approaches are often viable alternatives for smokers who wish to quit or for you as ex-smokers to use to help significant others stop smoking.

Most recently, a clinic participant told us of a friend who wanted to convince her husband to give up smoking. She considered his habit not only to be deadly but also wasteful and expensive. To illustrate her point to the husband, every time he purchased a new carton of cigarettes she promptly went to the nearest sewer and deposited an equivalent amount of money. This was making the poor husband sick. He usually retorted, "Why don't you at least donate it to a worthy cause?" She would reply, "At least my way of wasting money isn't hurting anyone." This activity went on for a little over a month, at which time the husband, realizing the real waste of his habit, decided it was time to stop. He made it. Not only was he saving money, but, more important, he was saving his life. I give the wife a lot of credit for having the guts and perseverance to continue this unconventional practice to motivate her husband to help himself.

At all my clinics, I always tell the story of the lady who eight years ago had a circulatory condition, Buerger's disease, and had to have her right leg amputated. As you may recall, she quit smoking and had no further circulatory complications for three years.

Then one night at a party, a friend offered her a cigarette. She figured that since she had been off cigarettes for so long, she now had control over her habit. If she liked the cigarette, she would smoke one or two a day. If she didn't like the cigarette, she just wouldn't smoke anymore.

Well, she took the cigarette. She didn't particularly like the cigarette, but the next day she was up to her old level of consumption. Four days later she lost circulation in her other leg. She knew the reason. After three years with no problem and only four days after going back to smoking her circulation was affected. Her doctor told her that if she did not quit immediately, she would probably lose her other leg.

She enrolled in a smoking clinic that week and quit smoking. Almost immediately her circulation improved. The doctor took her off anti-coagulant drugs. She no longer needed them. Soon, things were back to normal.

Nine months later, I called to ask her to serve on a panel. At that time, she replied, "I can't come. I have been in the hospital the last two months." When I asked what had happened, she replied, "I had my toes amputated." She had gone back to smoking. She tried one because she just couldn't believe she would get hooked again. She was wrong. She lost circulation, had her toes removed and eventually had her leg amputated.

I have had other clinic participants with similar experiences. The reason I talk about this story is I again ran into her about 3 years ago, at which time she told me she had finally quit smoking. I told her I was surprised, I thought she had permanently lost control. After all, she had her leg removed, the toes from her other foot, and eventually her second leg. When I confronted her with that information she replied, "The doctor finally convinced me. He said, 'You might as well keep on smoking, I'll just take your arms off next." That scared her into quitting smoking. Her next comment to me was unbelievable. She looked me straight in the face, dead seriously, and said "I didn't need a house to fall on me to tell me to quit smoking!"

I still have periodic contact with her, and whenever I bring up that conversation, we both find ourselves amazed that she could ever have made such an irrational statement. She happens to be a very rational, bright and inspirational individual. She gets around on wooden legs, socializes, and even occasionally sings and dances on stage. Once she had broken free of the drug's effects and the smoker's psyche, she knew she could do anything.

Frequently, I encounter people who quit smoking on their own. When I ask how they did it, they tell me of this marvelous lady they met who told of how she used to be hooked on smoking. Hooked so bad, in fact, that she had her legs amputated from a smoking related illness. It usually turns out to be the same person. By spreading her story, she offers inspiration and hope to countless smokers to break the habit before the habit breaks them.

You, too, probably have stories you can share with your smoking friends of your past experiences smoking, or of people you met in your clinic. Maybe you know of ways to help motivate family and friends to quit. Try to help those people most important to you. If they try to stop but can't on their own, remember, we are always out here to help them. You can really make a difference in their lives. Share your knowledge. For friends who have already quit, as well as for yourself, don't forget to reinforce the one principle - NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!



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Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:12

22 Apr 2001, 21:19 #9

Joel - thanks mate - I was quietly hoping you would come to my rescue on this issue - it's the only thing holding me back at the moment - thanks so much - Duncan
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

13 May 2001, 19:01 #10

I see where a few people are facing the dilemma of how to help influence friends and family members to quit smoking. The best way to help is setting the example that not only is it possible to quit, but that overall life is better once you did quit. The odds are pretty good that when you were a smoker you didn't think either of these situations were possible or likely. But you can't dwell on the topic with them if they are not ready or willing to hear it. If you say anything about smoking, say it infrequently, but let your example of not smoking and smiling speak for itself. Whether you say it or not you are setting the example.

If you have physical improvements, subtly bring it up, maybe not even mentioning smoking. If you are out shopping and see something you like while with them, buy it and say it is a little reward for yourself. Don't say why, just be cool and nonchalant about it. Most important, just carry on your normal existence to the best of your ability when around these people. You will be quietly teaching them that there really is life after smoking.

If it does eventually influence them and they are ready to quit, they will likely come to you for advice. Then you can refer them here, or print out materials from here and give it to them, or come read yourself the materials and translate into a personally delivered philosophy. Keep it simple for them. Quitting is not complicated or expensive. All it involves is getting nicotine out of the body. And staying off is not complicated either, it is simply a matter of remembering why you quit, remembering why you don't want to go back to smoking, and then remembering the way not to go back is to never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

15 May 2001, 19:16 #11

I see the topic of helping to influence others to quit has come up a few times over the past few days. Just wanted to make sure that people who are currently wrestling with how to approach this issue have read this. Again, the best way to help others is to prove to them that it is possible to quit and be happy as an ex-smoker. The way to do this is to smile a lot and show by example that you up to this point have been able to pull off what they one believed was an impossible and an amazing feat for you--your ability to quit smoking and never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:00

15 May 2001, 21:02 #12

Joel-
Thank you for putting this up. My step-father smokes, and everytime I see him go out for a smoke it makes me want to yell at him. He's 60 and has been smoking since he was 14.
Secondly I'm printing out the story about the lady with the circulation problems. If I'm ever tempted to give in to the nicodemon's lies I'm going to read that first. No way I could ever smoke after that. I almost lost my leg seven years ago due to an accident. So the story has extra meaning for me. Thank you.
Keilit
1 week, 5 days, 10 hours, 58 minutes, 55 seconds
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

17 Jun 2001, 19:07 #13

Since we are at one of those days where we take a little time out to recognize and appreciate our father's, I thought I would bring this one up. First, if your father still smokes, let him know you will be behind him when he is ready to quit. Maybe pass along some of the materials that had the most pronounced impact on your quit.

More importantly, if you are a father, recognize the example that you are now setting for your children. Share with them your lifetime experience in regards to tobacco. How you took it up never really recognizing the addictive nature, how you lost control, how you likeley got to the point where you desperately wanted to quit, how you quit and how you must now always keep your guard up to stay off. Make them realize that you never take your quit for granted. Hopefully the message will pass down.

If you lost a father to a smoking related disease, recognize the sadness you and many of your closest family and friends experienced and are still feeling on days such as today and recognize that you never want to put your loved ones through a similar situation.

Your parents gave you life, but you are the only one now who can make decisions that effect the real quality and in regard to smoking, the probable duration of your life. To live longer and to be able to share your life and time with others for longer always remember to never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

27 Jun 2001, 18:50 #14

I am not sure everyone can read the caption on this one. It reads: "Why is it you never ask me to stop smoking." If you look on the wife's face you get the full understanding that she doesn't care for her husband one bit and is basically looking forward to his early demise.
While you can't pester a person into quitting, you should always make it clear that you do want them to quit for their own health and make sure that they understand that you will be ready and very happy to help them when they are ready to quit. If they do not have Internet access feel free to print any of the materials out you find here at Freedom.
If they do have access, encourage them to come to Freedom. It is not even important that they join in, just reading will be of great value. Either way, an active member or an active lurker, the understanding they will get will help them in strengthening their resolve to quit and in understanding what they must do to quit. And we will try to drive home the most important point of all for everyone here, to understand that to stay smoke free they must never take another puff!
Joel
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

30 Jul 2001, 19:09 #15

For Triin:

Congratulations on influencing your mother and starting to influence your friends. The best chance everyone here has of influencing others is just by setting the example you are setting, not smoking and smiling every now and then. You are showing people that there is life after smoking.

They will often seek you out when the time comes that they are ready to try. Then you can teach more specific lessons. The main one is help every smoker wanting to quit understand the nicotine addiction. They need to know that they are not fighting a pack, or a carton, or a million cigarettes--they are fighting a puff! This concept more than any other is going to be the make or break point for any ex-smoker.

If they have computer access get them here to read the quitting material and especially the relapse material. If not print out what you can and share it with them. Don't assume they know what is now common sense to you, there is a tremendous amount of misunderstanding of the nicotine addiction. Make sure that all ex-smokers, whether they be off decades or days understand the simple premise that to stay smoke free they must never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

06 Aug 2001, 01:27 #16

For Threecrows and the positive influence she has already had on her friends. Hopefully many of you will have such impact on your family and friends. The best way to help others is just by continuing to do what you have done so far to help yourself--proving that it is possible to successfully quit smoking and to stay free from nicotine. The way you are proving this is by sticking to your personal commitment to never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

24 Dec 2001, 03:39 #17

I was going to bring this up just for Maggie but realized this can be especially important for the holidays. If you have any friends or family members who still smoke who may think that they cannot quit, offer to give them any support, advice, understanding or help that they should want if they ever decide to quit. You can't push a quit on to them, but you can offer to be there for them when they are ready. The only thing you need to give them from this point on to help maybe motivate them a point of readiness is your example of success--which you will always supply in abundance as long as you always remember for your own sake to never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

16 Feb 2002, 22:45 #18

In the 18th and 19th posts in the string Quitting smoking: A Fate Worse than Death?, Ingrid and Dent reflected on how smokers are in such disbelief to when another person quits smoking and actually seems comfortable about it. Everyone here has the potential of really influencing others to quit. It is not by pestering, begging, pleading, lecturing or belittling other smokers. It is simply by setting the example that there is life after smoking. By not smoking and smiling every now and then it starts to make others aware that quitting is possible. This fact is a major revelation for some people who think that quitting is impossible.

Everyone who has spend time studying here should realize that they have a deeper understanding of nicotine addiction, its causes, its implications, and its treatment than most other people you know. Share your understanding whenever you are sought out for advice. And over time you will be sought out, if you just continue to set the example.

When people ask you how you did it--tell them. When they ask you if you smoke occasionally or have ever had "just one," explain to them that the only reason that you are still an ex-smoker is now you understand there is no such thing as "just one." This is not preaching or an unsolicited response--they asked you the question. Just know by the simple fact that they asked that question they don't understand the nicotine addiction. Teach them what you know--that there is no such thing as "one" and that once they accept that fact--they can quit smoking and be armed with the ammunition to stay off. Help them understand that a successful and eventually comfortable smoke free life is no more magical or mystical than knowing now to never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: 09 Jan 2009, 23:41

24 Sep 2002, 22:08 #19

I used to wonder this same thing - "How can I get my husband to quit smoking?" - but I realize now that the best thing I can do for him, is nothing. It does no good to preach, or even to talk directly to him about it - it actually makes him want a cigarette even more. Occassionally I am able to slip into conversation some little tidbit that I've read here at Freedom - sometimes he will talk a little about it, other times he just ignores it! Several of our friends have also quit in the past few months, and it is making an impact on him. At the wedding reception we attended on Saturday night, he was the only smoker at our table! Last night, he came home from the neighbors house and said that he's beginning to feel like an outsider now, since hardly any of our friends smoke anymore. I wanted to say so much, but felt it was best to keep quiet and let him think about that.
I think he's finally accepted that my quit is real this time, and has actually commented on how well I'm doing. He still smokes in the house and the car, but does remove his ashtray and knows better than to ask me to pick cigarettes up at the store for him!

Sue
7 weeks & 4 days smoke free!!!
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

06 Feb 2003, 21:34 #20

I saw a number of posts yesterday pointing to the fact that there are times where people around you will offer up some pretty negative comments or reactions to the news that you have quit. I saw a number of posts raised about these negative reactions trying to help our members and readers understand why they occur. I just thought that I should bring up this one too, for while you may not be able to change the people who are offering negative support, you may over time find yourself in the situation where you can offer positive support to othes.

I don't know if the people who say or do basically cruel or thoughtless things designed to undercut a person quitting can walk around the rest of the day feeling good or proud of their efforts. But I do know that if you can help another person in securing his or her quit you can yourself feel a certain sense of accomplishment that particular day. The most important message you can get out to others is that quitting is possible and staying off is totally doable as long as you always remember to never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

13 May 2003, 03:29 #21

Today I did a program for 110 sixth graders. There were many questions both during and after the program from kids concerned about their parents smoking. One of the students father had just suffered a heart attack within the past few weeks and was in the process of quitting. I encouraged the group to refer their parents to www.whyquit.com as well as their siblings and other people they encounter.

I pointed out we try to cover issues at www.whyquit.com that are pertinent to people who smoke and want to quit, as well as providing materials for people who smoke and may still need a little extra motivation as to why they should quit, as well as for kids who do not smoke yet and want to reinforce their resolve to stay smoke free.

These kids are at the age where they are facing a huge amount of peer pressure to smoke and they need to have solid reasons if they are going to resist this kind of pressure. I am bringing up a few posts that are pertinent to them, and in the event that they do pass along the site to their parents and other adults, I am bringing up materials for these people also.

Joel
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

18 Jun 2003, 22:19 #22

One more way you may be able to help someone quit smoking is to email them a link to our new e-book at www.whyquit.com/joel/ntap.pdf.
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

06 May 2004, 04:53 #23

Post from last year:
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From: Joel Sent: 5/12/2003 2:29 PM
Today I did a program for 110 sixth graders. There were many questions both during and after the program from kids concerned about their parents smoking. One of the students father had just suffered a heart attack within the past few weeks and was in the process of quitting. I encouraged the group to refer their parents to www.whyquit.com as well as their siblings and other people they encounter.

I pointed out we try to cover issues at www.whyquit.com that are pertinent to people who smoke and want to quit, as well as providing materials for people who smoke and may still need a little extra motivation as to why they should quit, as well as for kids who do not smoke yet and want to reinforce their resolve to stay smoke free.

These kids are at the age where they are facing a huge amount of peer pressure to smoke and they need to have solid reasons if they are going to resist this kind of pressure. I am bringing up a few posts that are pertinent to them, and in the event that they do pass along the site to their parents and other adults, I am bringing up materials for these people also.

Joel

I went back to the same school mentioned above and did a presentation to probably another 110-120 sixth graders. While the group was made up of different kids with slightly different stories, the basic issues talked about above are the same. Actually, this is the 24th year in a row that I have talked to this school. I suspect I have students in this group who are children of students I talked to many years ago.

As always when I am doing school groups, I like to pop up a few extra posts that are directly addressing the concerns of young people, hopefully before they ever find themselves trapped into years of addiction. If any of our regular members have posts that they think will help influence these kids, today would be a good day to bring them up. Hopefully we can help some young people to never take up smoking, and in the event that there were some who have already started with experimentation, we will be able to help influence them to commit now to never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

22 Mar 2005, 04:59 #24

I see where a few people are facing the dilemma of how to help influence friends and family members to quit smoking. The best way to help is setting the example that not only is it possible to quit, but that overall life is better once you did quit. The odds are pretty good that when you were a smoker you didn't think either of these situations were possible or likely. But you can't dwell on the topic with them if they are not ready or willing to hear it. If you say anything about smoking, say it infrequently, but let your example of not smoking and smiling speak for itself. Whether you say it or not you are setting the example. If you have physical improvements, subtly bring it up, maybe not even mentioning smoking. If you are out shopping and see something you like while with them, buy it and say it is a little reward for yourself. Don't say why, just be cool and nonchalant about it. Most important, just carry on your normal existence to the best of your ability when around these people. You will be quietly teaching them that there really is life after smoking.

If it does eventually influence them and they are ready to quit, they will likely come to you for advice. Then you can refer them here, or print out materials from here and give it to them, or come read yourself the materials and translate into a personally delivered philosophy. Keep it simple for them. Quitting is not complicated or expensive. All it involves is getting nicotine out of the body. And staying off is not complicated either, it is simply a matter of remembering why you quit, remembering why you don't want to go back to smoking, and then remembering the way not to go back is to never take another puff!

Joel
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Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

27 Apr 2005, 08:17 #25

Until now I have been so preoccupied with my own quit that I have never mentioned this issue before. But now the time has come to talk about it. My dearest is a smoker, big time smoker, who has never even thought about quitting and claims that he actually 'enjoys' it.
During our life together I have attempted to quit several times and when one day I again joined him for a cigarette, his expression was telling something like"Well, it was time that you started again.". He has not really said anything negative about my quit attempts, but was not supportive either and seemed to be sure that I will go back to smoking soon.
This time (almost three weeks now) has been different in many ways, also my husband's reaction was different. He was not supportive at all and even hostile towards me. He seemed to sense that I meant it for real this time and that he was definitely loosing me as his 'smoke partner'. Without really saying it directly he seemed to do all to make it even more difficult for me, for example leaving cigarettes everywhere and announcing it every time before having one. My determination scared him, I think.
It has been sad to realize how smoking is more important to him than my health, because otherwise he would have been more helpful and more supportive. But I don't really blame him for that. My quit is still so fresh that I can well remember how powerful it's grip is.
Couple of days ago my dearest said that he has been thinking about joining me. We didn't talk about it more. But already this remark is a huge change in attitude. I will not pressure him and just hope that I can help him through my example.
Ivano - enjoying my 21st day of nicotine free life
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