Join Our Community

Is There a Smoker in Your House?

Articles Inspirational articles from Hay House authors

Is There a Smoker in Your House?

Help loved ones break their habit.
Ben  Fletcher
Ben Fletcher More by this author
Nov 17, 2011 at 09:00 AM

What can the partner, friend or supporter of the would-be quitter do to help them to quit? If you’ve bought someone our book Love Not Smoking to help them quit, then you’ve already taken the first positive step and sent absolutely the right message. You’ve said, “I care about you enough to want you not to smoke.” There are still other ways in which you can be an aid, rather than an enemy, as you stand by and watch someone close to you try to quit.

After all, you want them to use this book and not end up throwing it at you, so here are a few pointers to help you both get the most from it.


Rule No. 1: Positive Encouragement

Positive encouragement is the opposite of nagging. Praise the person for wanting to quit. Don’t nag them because they smoke, have failed before or taken ages to get around to giving up. Reminding the quitter of how well they are doing and praising their efforts will smooth the way enormously. Even if they complain about how tough they’re finding it, just gently remind them that this is a really positive undertaking, one of the most life-enhancing journeys they have ever taken, and stress how much you admire them for it.

Remind the person who’s trying to quit that, however bad they are feeling at any given moment, it won’t last for long. And the longer they go without smoking, the sooner they will start to feel better.

Just a minor note of caution, though. Don’t be too overbearing with your praise and support, or smother them.

  • Do say: Good for you, keep at it, you can do it!
  • Don’t say: How many times have you tried to give up?

Rule No. 2: Selfless Motivation

Although it’s highly likely that the smoker has other people in mind when they draw up a list of reasons for quitting, ultimately the quitter has to do it for themselves alone. However desperately you would like the other person to quit, they are the one in charge.

If the quitter makes other people the sole reason for quitting, they are likely to fail. So step back from the ‘do it for me’ and ‘do it for the kids’ messages. Selfish motivation is powerful and has to come before doing it for others.

Doing it for oneself, for social, financial and health reasons is powerfully motivating, and knowing that others will benefit too is really the icing on the cake.

  • Do say: Do it for yourself; you are the one who matters here.
  • Don’t say: Think about me/the kids/other people.

Rule No. 3: Minimize Temptation

If you’re living with someone who’s trying to give up then it goes without saying that this isn’t the time to throw wild parties and invite your heavy smoking friends around for an all-night boozing session. You may even need to forego some social activities for a while and avoid those places where you know the quitter is likely to be exposed to temptation.
Anticipate the old triggers and make sure they are kept out of the way by planning around them, and you’ll make the quit road less bumpy.

Help the quitter on a day-by-day basis by keeping some healthy snacks on hand, making sure there’s a bottle of water by the telephone, or some mints by the bed so that, at those critical moments of temptation, there’s an alternative option readily available.

  • Do say: Fancy going for a walk? Game of cards? Twister?
  • Don’t say: Let’s go down the pub for a few drinks.

Rule No. 4: Tolerate the Ups and Downs

Make no bones about it, the quitter may have some uncharacteristic mood swings and be more irritable, angry or emotional than usual. If this happens try to be as tolerant as you can. And don’t criticize the quitter for the way they are behaving. Remind yourself that this is a phase, it’s quite normal, it’s worse for them than it is for you and it will pass.

Most people say the first week is the worst and symptoms lessen after that. Just give them time to let the mood pass, without overreacting, even if you do secretly begin to wonder if your ex-smoker has been replaced by a raging monster. They will get back to their old self in time. 

  • Do say: It’s tough now, but every day it’ll get
  • Don’t say: I preferred you when you smoked.

Rule No. 5: Familiarize Yourself with Love Not Smoking
The more you know about the Love Not Smoking: Do Something Different program, the more you will be able to support your partner through it and help them to quit for good. Let us warn you: there are some pretty strange things that can happen, and we want you to be prepared for them. Don’t throw a fit when they start to rearrange the furniture – it truly is part of the program. Don’t laugh or ridicule them when they are trying to lick their own elbow or learn Mandarin; give them all the encouragement you can. And don’t be surprised if they start behaving a little out of character. There’s no need to feel threatened by this; it’s not about you. You are not losing your partner, you’re getting them back, retuned, improved and reconditioned!

  • Do say: What are you doing differently today – and can I help?
  • Don’t say: What on earth are you doing that for?
About Author
Ben  Fletcher
Karen Pine and Ben (C) Fletcher are both professors of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire, UK and renowned experts on behavior change. Their Do Something Different technique has had a huge success in helping people lose weight, tackle st Continue reading