Supporting family and friends to quit smoking may be one of the best things you can do in your life.
Practical ways you can help a quitter
The smoker must decide to quit smoking. However, as a friend, family member or workmate, you can play an important role in helping someone quit. The smoker needs to do the hard work, but if they feel supported in their quit journey, they are more likely to quit forever.
Use the tips below to find out how you can help a quitter. Your reward will be knowing you’ve helped someone be healthier and happier.
Your attitude makes a difference
The quitter is in charge. Support should always be positive and non-judgemental. Lecturing or nagging the quitter won’t help them. Pressure from friends and family can make quitting more difficult.
Be supportive and encouraging
Stay positive and let the quitter know you're there to listen if they want to talk. Try to overlook any grumpiness, as this can be part of their withdrawal symptoms, and it won't last forever.
Believe in the quitter's ability to quit
Your faith in them will help them reach their end goal. Avoid questioning their ability to quit.
It’s ok if they're not successful the first time. Avoid showing disappointment or becoming disheartened. Quitting smoking can take multiple attempts. Encourage them to try again.
Let the quitter know that you are there for as long as it takes them to succeed
Cravings and setbacks can happen weeks or months after quitting. Continue to support them and offer distractions to help them stay quit.
Help by making changes around your house and car
Make your home and car smoke-free
Smoke-free spaces provide the quitter with a supportive environment. Making smoking inconvenient will help them cut back and quit.
Remove smoking materials from your home
Remove lighters, matches, ashtrays and anything else that may remind the quitter of smoking.
Wash any clothes and furnishings that smell like smoke and clean your home to make it feel fresh and to remove any smoke residue.
Help with food and drink choices
Make sure a supply of healthy snacks is on hand
Healthy snacks are helpful as a distraction or to ensure weight gain is minimised. Good suggestions include fresh veggie sticks, sugar-free gum or mints.
Encourage avoiding or limiting alcohol
It helps to avoid alcohol for the first few weeks of quitting, as for many smokers, it will trigger a craving.
Encourage cutting caffeine intake
Reduce coffee, tea or other caffeinated drinks in half, as caffeine has a stronger effect when a person stops smoking.
Organise practical activities
Spend time with the quitter and suggest things to do to keep their mind off smoking. Activities could include going to the movies, going out in nature, and joining a class to learn something new.
Assist with everyday tasks and techniques for managing stress
Help the quitter with daily tasks to ensure their stress level is manageable. Encourage them to come up with a list of things to do when they feel stressed such as exercise, listening to music or a podcast.
Recognise both big and small milestones. Even being smoke-free for a day is a huge success. Give them a card or some flowers, or go out together to celebrate milestones. Quitting smoking is a big deal.
Help them come up with strategies for dealing with craving
Suggestions include taking a walk, squeezing a stress ball, having a healthy snack, calling a friend or having a glass of water.
Suggest they see how much they could save
Try the Cost calculator tool and encourage them to consider other uses for the money they'll save.
Suggest ways the quitter can get extra support when needed
Suggest they go online or try an app
Suggest they talk to a health professional
Suggest they discuss using medication or nicotine replacement therapies
They can speak with their doctor or a Quitline counsellor about medications and nicotine replacement therapies that can help with their cravings.
Helping others when you're a smoker
Consider quitting together with the other person
Quitting with a friend means you can help motivate and support each other, so this is a great time for you to quit too.
If you're not ready to quit
You can still support others in many ways.
This might include:
- not offering them cigarettes
- not smoking or buying cigarettes when you're around them
- keeping your cigarettes, lighters, matches and ashtrays out of sight
- spending time with them at smoke-free places such as cinemas or restaurants.
What if your quitter starts to smoke again?
Encourage quitters to learn from their quit attempts and to try again. Make sure you praise them for trying to quit smoking and encourage them to try again. It can take multiple attempts to quit smoking successfully.
Last updated: January 2023