How to Persuade Someone to Quit Smoking

Four Parts:Talking to Your Loved One about QuittingOffering Continued SupportProviding Expert Advice or ResourcesUnderstanding Nicotine Addiction

Persuading someone to quit smoking isn’t always an easy task. It’s possible that your smoker has tried to quit, but failed. It’s possible that they want to quit, but don’t have the tools or support they need to move forward. That’s where you come in. Your help and continued support will help persuade your loved one to quit smoking successfully.

Part 1
Talking to Your Loved One about Quitting

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    Determine how to approach your loved one. Since it's a sensitive topic, it’s a good idea to plan your approach first.
    • Decide where you want to have the conversation. Somewhere familiar and comfortable is best.
    • Come up with a way to bring the topic up without being too abrupt. You want to cut down on shock as much as possible.
    • Prepare for possible hurt feelings by having planned reactions. For example, if they say, “I can make my own decisions” you reply with, “that’s true and I’m not trying to tell you what to do. I’m just concerned because…”
    • Appeal to their emotional side. This way they’ll know your motivation is in the right place and will be more likely to listen to your advice.
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    Remind them of the harm smoking causes. Smoking is an unhealthy habit, not only for the person who smokes but also for the people around them. It’s important to keep these messages positive. Don’t berate, nag, or induce fear into your loved one.
    • Remind them how much you love them and want to keep them around for many years to come. Smoking causes serious health conditions like lung cancer. It’s also a known cause of Osteoporosis, stroke, and depression.[1]
    • If your loved one values physical beauty, encourage them to preserve their beauty by avoiding smoking-induced wrinkles and yellow teeth.[2]
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    Encourage longevity through human connection. Remind them of their own loved ones (children, grandchildren, husband/wife, valued friends) and how important they are to the people around them.[3] Placing pictures of young people might help serve as a motivating daily reminder.
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    Offer your support. Make the quitting process as easy as possible for your loved one.
    • Offer to be available by phone when they need you if a craving happens.
    • Let them know you’ll be supportive through the whole process.
    • Recruit others to be part of the support network as well, if possible.
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    Come up with a plan of action with them. Design a concrete plan that your loved one can follow on a daily basis that will help them avoid smoking. You can adjust the plan as needed, but this gives them something to follow and refer to in the days to come.[4]

Part 2
Offering Continued Support

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    Help distract them. Smoking becomes such a natural part of a smoker’s daily routine that it becomes second nature. One of the most difficult parts of quitting is building new habits. You can help them with this (or recruit others to help).
    • If they smoke on their work breaks, offer to go on a walk with them instead.
    • If they smoke after a meal, ask them to help clean up or walk the dog.
    • If they smoke first thing in the morning, offer to share a cup of coffee with them.
    • If they smoke when they drink, avoid parties or bars where alcohol is served.
    • If they get the urge to smoke, try to be available to talk them out of it.[5]
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    Address withdrawal symptoms. Your loved one will experience some withdrawal symptoms. It’s best to address them head-on and be supportive through those difficult times. Remind them that these symptoms are temporary.
    • Weight gain is common. If this happens, offer to exercise with them and help restructure their diet.
    • Sleep might be hard to come by for a while. Suggest some things they can do, like read a book, watch a television show, or write in a journal.
    • Don’t take their bad moods personally. Continue to be positive and let them know that it’s okay to have bad days. Remind them how proud you are.
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    Push them to keep trying if they “slip up”. Most people who quit smoking will slip up at some point in their process. It’s normal, and it’s okay. Unfortunately, a lot of quitters will see it as a sign of failure and stop trying. The first 2 weeks are usually the hardest.
    • Remind them of all the reasons they wanted to quit in the first place (or should quit).
    • Let them know they can still quit and haven’t failed.
    • Identify the trigger so they know what to avoid moving forward.[6]
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    Reward milestones and successes. Quitting smoking is not easy. Reward their efforts along the way. They promote encouragement and remind your loved one they’re still moving in the right direction.
    • One of the best outcomes of quitting is the money they’ll save. Suggest that they set that money aside and treat themselves when they’ve quit smoking. Hawaii, anyone?[7]
    • Incremental rewards and praise is important. Consistent positive feedback or tangible rewards are helpful reminders of progress.
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    Check in with them. Don’t leave it up to them to let you know how they’re doing. Ask. Keep an eye on how they’re progressing so you know when to offer more support, or when to reward successes.

Part 3
Providing Expert Advice or Resources

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    Suggest seeing a professional. If you can’t be enough support for them, it might be time to recruit the help of a professional. Behavioral therapists can often help people quit smoking.[8][9] One-on-one therapy is an option or group therapy can offer more support.
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    Offer to go to a group session with them. A lot of people are uncomfortable going to group therapy sessions, especially the first time. Offer to attend with them to help ease their anxiety until they feel more comfortable going alone.
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    Suggest nicotine patches or gum. Nicotine patches and gum have shown to be helpful for many people quitting smoking.[10] You might suggest that your loved one give them a try.
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    Provide them with helpful resources. Be ready to provide them with any resources they might need. So, if they can’t afford a therapist, give them a list of free or low-cost options. You can also give them resources to the same websites you found your own facts and stats.
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    Suggest an appointment with their doctor. Their doctor may be able to offer resources or advice specialized to their profession. It’s always a good idea to let your healthcare professional know about things like this in case they can help.[11]

Part 4
Understanding Nicotine Addiction

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    Research smoking statistics. Nicotine is the addictive property in cigarettes. There are lots of resources available for reliable statistics to help you understand addiction. Searching online is a great place to start.
    • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has statistics broken down by demographics.[12][13]
    • The American Lung Association gives facts about smoking and quitting smoking.[14]
    • The Department of Health and Human Services has a full report on the health consequences of smoking.[15]
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    Take notes. Write some of the more important statistics and facts down on a notecard or piece of paper. You can refer to them when you’re persuading your loved one to quit smoking.
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    Talk to a healthcare professional. Getting statistics gives you a broad snapshot of the effects of smoking and nicotine addiction, but talking to a healthcare professional gives you a chance to ask questions and get more information related to your specific situation.
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    Talk to another person who has quit. Who better understands the process of quitting smoking than someone who has quit smoking? Since no two people are alike it might be a good idea to talk to more than one person. They can offer insight you won’t get from online resources.


  • Make sure your loved one is ready to quit. If they aren't motivated, it won't be successful.
  • Check in with them regularly to see how things are going.
  • Be a good listener. Sometimes they’ll just need someone to listen.[16]
  • Some states provide free patches or lozenges, and every state offers free resources.[17][18]


  • Don’t be negative about their quitting process (especially during the first few weeks). Continue to be positive and upbeat, even when they’re in a bad mood.
  • Be respectful. You may have strong feelings about your loved one's habit. Your feelings should never outweigh your their right to choose whether they smoke.

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Categories: Health Activism | Smoking Addictions