The Best Way to Quit? Don’t Start!
Believe it or not over 3,000 people younger than 18 years old take up smoking every day. Despite the scientific findings, anti-smoking campaigns, and rising cost of cigarettes, smoking is not going away. But the best thing you can do if someone has either started to smoke or is thinking about it is help them stop before they become addicted. There are plenty of ways to help someone avoid or quit smoking, and you can play an important role in saving one person from an even harder quit. It’s never too late to help someone map out a Monday quit plan!
The most important thing to remember when trying to get someone to quit smoking before it becomes a regular behavior is to be supportive. Making someone feel bad about themselves is discouraging! The journey to quit is frustrating enough – you can be positive reinforcement for someone ready to make a change. Here are a few ways to be a good friend and quit partner:
Remind them how much quitting smoking will improve their health. Chances are, your friend is well aware of the health risks that come with smoking. They’ve seen the ads, read the reports, and this is all old news. Rather than tell them about the stuff they already know, remind them that almost immediately following their quit, their health is likely to improve in several ways – blood circulation improves within 20 minutes, lowering your heart rate and blood pressure, which means a lower risk for heart attack the longer they stay quit. Two or three months down the road, lung capacity increases. After a few days, their senses of smell and taste will get better. What a great excuse to take your quitter out to dinner as a reward!
Learn to recognize a “nic fit.” If you’re a former smoker, your friends may have told you that they had to deal with your “nic fits,” mood swings and cravings that come with nicotine withdrawal that begin right after quitting smoking. The symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are very real (as you may already know if you’ve quit) but remind your friend that they are temporary and will pass. If you happen to be around during a nic fit, provide pleasant distractions for your friend – a healthy snack, a walk, or even just a conversation.
Help them create their quit plan. If you’re a former smoker, share what worked and what didn’t work for you, such as apps, blogs, or support groups. Your friend may try their own plan, but in case something doesn’t work, they will have other methods and tips to try. Use Mondays to set weekly goals until they quit completely, then celebrate on every Monday they don’t smoke!