8 Things Not to Say to Someone Who Has Quit Smoking

Be supportive of the ex-smoker in your life. David Sacks/Digital Vision/Getty Images
What we say to loved ones who are trying to quit smoking has the power to help or hurt their progress. Use care to avoid some of these common negative comments. Instead, let them know how proud you are of them and that you will be there to help every step of the way.

8 Things Not to Say to Someone Trying to Quit Smoking

1. You'll quit smoking when you're ready.

For a person who is struggling with a powerful addiction like nicotine, suggesting that a time will come when all of the stars align and the perfect quit program falls into their lap does them a disservice.

The fact is, when you are an addict, there is never a good time to quit, so now is always the best time.

I spent years of my life thinking that I'd quit when I was "ready". The day finally came when I realized I might well die before that happened. If I was going to quit smoking, I'd have to force the issue and get started.

2. You'll go back to smoking eventually.

I lost a quit to this one. A person who was important to me (and was also a smoker) congratulated me for quitting and in the next breath let me know he thought I'd be back to smoking before long. It was early in my quit program and that statement was all it took for doubt and junkie thinking to set in. I went back to smoking not long after. While it's true that he wasn't responsible my relapse, think how much better it would have been for him to have been supportive and simply left it at that.

3. It's ok to smoke just one cigarette.

Smoking friends will sometimes try to convince their ex-smoker buddies that it's ok to smoke just one cigarette or just for tonight. Don't test your friend who is working so hard to quit in this way. One cigarette almost always leads to another. Instead, avoid smoking in front of your friend. Make it as easy on them as you can.

4. You're going to die if you don't quit smoking.

Scaring a smoker into quitting is never a good tactic. You'll only succeed at alienating the person you're trying to help. And believe me, you're not telling them something they don't know or think about almost daily. Every smoker secretly worries about the diseases and death that follow nicotine addiction.

5. If you don't quit smoking, I'm leaving.

Ultimatums will only serve to make the newly quit feel pressured, guilty and angry. Chances are the ex-smoker in your life already knows how much you dislike his/her cigarette habit. Instead of threats, use words of understanding to show your support. It will go a lot further toward achieving the positive outcome you both want.

6. You quit a month ago - get over it!

People who have never smoked sometimes have a hard time understanding how deeply nicotine addiction affects smokers. It takes time to clear out all of the associations that have built up related to cigarettes over the years. Celebrate every milestone your ex-smoker achieves and remember their quit date!

Your sensitivity and support will go a long way in bolstering their resolve to keep going.

7. If you're going to be cranky all the time, you might as well start smoking again.

From sleep disturbances to increased stress and strong urges to smoke, early smoking cessation is a challenge both physically and psychologically. Ease the discomforts on the ex-smoker in your life by sharing some of their day-to-day task load if you can. Help with errands, meal preparation or other demands so that they don't feel overwhelmed. Remember that this is a temporary phase and things will improve in time.

8. You've gained weight since you quit smoking.

Smoking speeds up metabolism slightly and when we quit smoking, a gain of 6 - 8 pounds is normal. This extra weight will come back off within a few months as long as eating habits haven't changed. That said, food is an appealing replacement for smoking early on, and many folks do have some weight to lose once smoking cessation has become comfortable. Reassure your ex-smoker that a modest amount of weight gained can be lost later and that for now, the important thing is to keep their quit program safe. Weight can be lost; lungs cannot.

Smoking cessation is one of the toughest challenges our loved ones will face in life...and one of the most rewarding. Do all you can to support their efforts to make this healthy improvement. It will mean the world to them and may well give you more time together in the long run.


Your positive support can have a significant impact on how friends and family are able to cope with health challenges they may face.

About.com Health Guides have compiled lots of tips on what not to say to friends and family over a wide variety of topics.

Maximize your efforts to help those you care about by avoiding the common mistakes listed above that are often made with the best of intentions.

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