5 Things Not to Say to Someone Who's Trying to Quit Smoking

Stop Smoking!

1. "You're going to get lung cancer." Yes, it's true, smoking causes cancer, emphysema, and all sorts of other problems. But smokers have heard these arguments so often that they're like the annoying buzz of a mosquito.

"The health risks of smoking aren't news to anyone; smokers have heard it all before," says Pam Mills, an addiction counselor and hypnotherapist in Denver, Colorado. "All they do is block you out or say whatever they think will shut you up."

2. "If you loved me, you'd quit." As with any addiction, guilt doesn't work, experts say, because if the smoker believed he could quit, he would. All it does is make him feel guilty and bad about himself -- and angry at you for making him feel crummy.

3. "Smoking is disgusting. I don't know why you don't quit." Making a smoker feel bad about smoking is counterproductive because he feels that way already but can't admit it to himself. You'll just drive a wedge between you both, when the message you want to give is that you're on his side. Besides, you probably do know why he doesn't quit: He thinks he can't.

Replace those negative comments with neutral or positive ones. You might start by asking, "How can I support you in getting healthier?" Follow that with encouragement focused on whatever goals the smoker has chosen as his motivation.

5 Things Not to Say to Someone Who's Trying to Quit Smoking

4. "Look at you; you get out of breath so easily."

Instead of pointing out the smoker's shortness of breath, take a sneakier approach, suggests addiction expert Susan Gayle of New York. Together with your smoking partner, take up an activity, such as golf or ballroom dancing, that requires healthy lungs. Make getting healthy a joint project, and let your loved one figure out that smoking is getting in the way. Your point will be made for you.

5. "Do you want your grandchildren to see you smoking?" While smokers talk a good game, typically insisting that they're happy with their identity as smokers, deep down they're ashamed of their dependence. Shaming them doesn't work because they're there already. Much more effective is to take the opposite approach, helping the smoker envision how proud he would feel if he were able to stop smoking: "You're going to be a wonderful example for the grandchildren when you quit."


over 1 year ago, said...

Smoking, like abortions, are a person's choice. Both end in the death of an innocent person. Think about it. You can chose to be sexually responsible (using birth control or sterilization) and not get pregnant (90% of the time) (skipping sex altogether 100 % effective and no venereal diseases either). You can ask if anyone minds if you smoke and not light up when they say they do (thus avoiding sending an asthmatic to the hospital emergency room). It's a matter of choice. But how often do either prochoice or pro-smoking people ask their victim what they would prefer you to do? I chose to live.


over 1 year ago, said...

V.U.M. Rao asked "What is the use of giving up if I am happy with smoking?" I will answer his question for everyone who is trying to quit and has failed time and time again. You're not quitting just for you. One in five people in America have some sort of allergy or asthma. Over one billion dollars are spent in emergency rooms annually treating attacks that have been triggered by someone smoking. America gives us the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They were put in that order for a reason. Life is more important than Liberty, Liberty more important than the Pursuit of Happiness... That being said, if you light up a cigarette in my presence, I will go into an attack that could send me to the hospital or die. Just that quickly. Lungs swell shut and I stop breathing. My sister has been to the hospital 2-3 times a year since she was about 20 (she's 55 now). Can you imagine someone going to the hospital that many times just because you felt the need to puff on a cigarette? Please remember that someone like me or my sister could be standing next to you at any time. One in five chance. Do you really want to be the one who kills someone because you forgot to ask if they minded if you smoked, or didn't see the person on the other side of the hedge (smoke doesn't stop at the edge of a non-smoking area or dissipate sufficiently from one yard to the next to avoid triggering an attack)? My neighbor now calls out when she plans to smoke so I can take shelter inside so I won't start gagging or throw up. Most smokers are not aware of the people around them. Maybe this will raise their awareness of the harm they do to others unknowing. (If you hear someone with a nagging cough and it bothers you, it's probably someone who is gagging from the third-hand smoke particles coming off your clothes.)


over 1 year ago, said...

I quit smoking when I was not well due to UTI. I quit for an year without feeling the urge. In fact I felt happy as many people appreciated about it. Assuming I have control, I again started it with an idea that I can exercise control but I could not. Whenever the smoking urge comes in, I try to go away from the crowd around me and smoke. Every found out that I started again. They stopped advising me. Now I am in a great dilemma whether to continue few smokes a day or thinking that every body dies one day. What is the use of giving up if I am happy with smoking.


over 2 years ago, said...

In reading the comments, I noticed someone who suggested "Why don't they move to the non-smoking section", but gave no way for a response to be given... So here's the answer to his comment. "Non-smoking section" is a myth. There is smoking section and somewhat less smoky section. Unless the rooms are divided (airtight) and NEVER opened to each other, and have separate air intakes and different air conditioning units it will never happen. I am allergic to nicotine. It clings to everything a smoker wears (it is termed "third-hand smoke"), wall, furniture. It doesn't go away and can be released at any time. I carry an inhaler and epi-pen. I once threw up on a smoker because the reaction hit so fast that I was drowning in mucus which triggered a reflux action, before I could take my meds. I've been getting shots for 22 years to control my allergies. Please ask if smoking bothers people BEFORE lighting up. If someone asks you to put it out, please do. They may not have enough air to give you the long winded explanation that they are allergic or asthmatic and your smoking could send them to the hospital where they will be given an epi-pen and other medicines to try to undo the damage your cigarette just caused. They can't tell you about being monitored to be sure the medicines they receive don't cause a heart attack or the expenses they pay (annually over one Billion dollars is spent in hospitals across the US for asthma attacks triggered by cigarette smoke) after you light up one of your cigarettes from a $5-8 pack of cigarettes.


over 2 years ago, said...

I quit smoking 3 years ago after 42 years as a smoker. I heard most all of the above from well meaning people, especially "if you love me, you will quit". Unfortunately, all this did was make me feel guilty and when I felt guilty, I smoked. When I finally quit, it was my time and I wanted it. No one can make another person quit an addiction (smoking, i.e. nicotine, is an addiction); quitting comes from within.


over 3 years ago, said...

When I see words such as, "take a sneakier approach," in an article written to help support someone else, I feel revolted that an author would suggest ways to manipulate someone's feelings. Sneakier - how disgusting. The article discusses the feelings of the smoker - feelings they may not even be able to acknowledge. This is ALSO counterproductive, demeaning, and invasive. How about discussing the feelings of the intended reader - the person who chooses to support someone who is quitting smoking? It is hard enough to quit smoking without wondering if one is being manipulated and without having to question the honesty of someone's supposed "support."


over 4 years ago, said...

After 24 years of smoking, I've been smoke-free for 15+ years. Those comments you advise NOT to say are exactly what I needed to hear, to compel me to quit. And my favorite: (while pointing at the offending lit cigarette between their fingers) "Still letting those little pieces of s#!t run your life?" Oh man, that one REALLY gets 'em. Sorry, but in my opinion, tiptoeing around an expensive, dirty, dangerous habit doesn't work. It made me quit and I dish it out to every smoker I encounter.


over 4 years ago, said...

Well to b very honest i wish i can do smoke atleast once a time but i knw that if i do one time tht will become my habbit :p so i avoid. become famous


over 4 years ago, said...

I am a smoker. I have quit twice in my adult life, 25 and 50. Both times I quit, I felt like hell. I am happier smoking and feel better. I run and am active. I am an ex tobacco farmer. My folks, including grand parents all smoke and live to be in their 90s. It is genetics that keeps me healthy.


over 4 years ago, said...

this doesnt work if like my family they expect u to put up with what they really like some truely do take pride im smoking with some it isnt just a front


over 4 years ago, said...

I smoked 40 years had two stents . I quit the same day. Cant stand the smell anymore


over 4 years ago, said...

Smoking isn't bad for you! Inhaleing is! Isn't there anybody out there that knows you don't inhale when smoking a cigar or pipe? They're smoked for taste! And as for cigarette smokers! Who the hell ever told you to inhale when smoking the damn things?! I don't know why anybody would even want to do that! I remember some years ago,a guy made national headlines when it was reported that he died at the age of 102,and it was a known fact,that all of his adult life he averaged 2 packs of cigaretts a day! It probably never occured to anybody that he didn't inhale! So,it's just like anything else! Learn how to do it!!!


over 4 years ago, said...

That comment about smokers being "ashamed of their dependence" is crap. You need not lump all smokers into one big category and call us all ashamed. I know it is bad for me, but I am certainly not ashamed to be a smoker in any way, shape, or form. Get real if you are going to give advice!


over 4 years ago, said...

9 months ago my Doctor said the "E" word Emphazeema, I can't spell it but I know what it is, and I am not going to spend the rest of my life hooked up to an oxygen tank. I haven't had a cigarette since, I hope I quit in time .


over 4 years ago, said...

How about: "Use a bullet. it's quicker, doesn't poison the people around you, and costs tax payers a lot less."


over 4 years ago, said...

if you love yourself, you should quit it!


over 4 years ago, said...

"While smokers talk a good game, typically insisting that they're happy with their identity as smokers, deep down they're ashamed of their dependence" Or, a swift exit 10 years earlier than the coffin-dodgers ;)? Not all smoker feel like this, and the fact that the author refers only the smoker as male "[he/him]" suggests a purely personal experience with a smoker, and nothing in the way of research or statistics. Well done - more internet dribble for the masses :)