10 Things Not to Say to Someone Trying to Stop Smoking

by Dr Antonio Howell, MD

in Blog

The 3 Week Diet

Exerting the effort to stop smoking is already a difficult feat in itself. It is then important to be sensitive around somebody who is trying to quit smoking now. There are times when somebody who is trying to stop smoking is tempted to go back to the habit. Being supportive and appreciative of quitters’ efforts is important as an empowerment to what they are already doing. If you have a friend, relative or even an acquaintance who is trying to stop smoking today, give them a pat on the back and know what words to avoid.


1. “You already said you’re quitting but you never did.”


Recurring fits of wanting to quit may be expressed continuously over time. The fact that it crossed their mind shows a willingness to ditch the habit and start anew. Showing impatience over such issue will only worsen the situation and does not give any help at all. It only shows that you are tired of hearing the same things over and over again and are reiterating that there has been no progress made  instead of encouraging that person to finally do it.

2. “You’re going to get sick.”

The person who is trying to quit most likely knows this is possible. That’s exactly the reason why he/she is quitting. Avoid spelling out the obvious and focus on the positive side of it instead. If you can’t say “you will feel healthier after,” just listen instead.

3. “You have to choose between me and smoking.”

How is this ever helpful? Making a person choose between smoking cessation and your relationship does not do any good. As a matter of fact, it only pushes the person further into the habit with the anxiety that the threat brought him/her.

4. “Did you gain weight since you quit?”

Even if somebody actually did gain weight after quitting, it would be good not to point it out. Some may compensate the habit with eating instead. It would be better to push somebody towards acknowledging their effort then suggest a physical activity that would also veer them away from smoking and eating altogether.


5. “What kind of role model are you?”

This guilt-trip statement just wouldn’t cut it. It feeds anxiety that may push the person to looking for a “crutch” to alleviate the negative feeling. Highlight how quitting becomes an inspiration to others instead.

6. “Don’t take your withdrawal blues on me.”

If a person gets grumpy or depressed in the early phase of quitting, be supportive by remaining pragmatic as possible. Being in control of the situation when the other person isn’t makes it a lot easier to go through the temporary hurdle.

7. “What’s one cigarette?”

If a person has already a strong resolve about quitting and somebody tells them that one cigarette wouldn’t hurt, it is likely to make them feel entitled to the “reward.” In the long run, entitlement is another shortcut to addiction.

8. “It’s hard, isn’t it?”

There’s no other way to discourage a person than to further rub it in, that the process is gruelsome and difficult. Going through the process of quitting has to be fun and and there’s no better way to do that than take that person’s mind off the process and be distracted with other activities.

9. “Going to this place wouldn’t interfere with your quitting.”

If you know that a specific place has a lot of smokers and would encourage smoking, then look for other options. It may not be what you wanted to imply, but act of going to a smoking place encourages it. Not to mention exposure to second-hand smoke makes it all worse.

10. “Why try,  you’ll be smoking again in no time.”

Understanding how difficult it would be to sustain in the long run means that you truly care for that person. There may be relapses in the withdrawal process and that alone is difficult to go through. Being patient with someone who’s trying to quit smoking today gives them hope for tomorrow.


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