Helping Your Parents Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking is tough. So is talking to your mom, dad or anyone you love about quitting. Remember, you can’t make them quit but you can let them know that you’re there for them if they want to try. Here are a few tips for encouraging someone you love to quit smoking:

  • Ask them to quit. Sounds simple, but do they know you want them to? If they already know you would like them to quit, explain why. Give them specific reasons, like, “I want you to play sports with me,” or “I love you and I want you to be healthy!”
  • Try not to get angry with them. Many smokers want to quit; they just don’t think they can do it.
  • Remember, you can’t force a smoker to quit-they have to be ready. But you can let them know that you are there to support them when they make that decision.
  • If they say they want to quit, ask them how you can help. Pick a quit date together and offer support along the way.

Tips for supporting parents through a quit attempt:

You’ve probably heard a thousand times that smoking is addictive. But what does that mean, anyway? It means that cigarettes contain a drug called nicotine that actually changes the brain to make smokers become dependent and crave more of it. Nicotine is the main reason people continue to smoke even when they know it is bad for them and that, if they don’t stop, the chemicals and carcinogens in tobacco smoke could eventually kill them. This is why it’s so hard for many smokers to stop, even though they may want to. But if you support an adult who wants to stop smoking by following these tips, you can increase their chances of quitting.

  • Keep them busy. Ask them to go for a walk, play a sport or even go shopping. These activities will keep their minds off cigarettes.
  • Encourage them to get help. When smokers try to quit without help, their brains and bodies miss cigarettes, which is what makes them cranky and, sometimes, what makes them go back to smoking. There are a variety of tools, such as FDA (Food and Drug Administration)-approved medicines, telephone quitlines and counseling, that can help them get through a quit attempt and increase their chances of quitting.
  • Remind them how happy you are that they chose to quit smoking. You can write it on a note and tell them to keep it in their wallet or some place that they can see it when they think about having a cigarette.
  • Offer to help them create a “quit smoking” journal or a list of reasons to stop. They can use this as a way to remember why it’s so important to stop smoking. This also will help them make specific plans to cope with situations that make them wish they could smoke.
  • Be understanding about how hard it is to quit. If they seem cranky, don’t get mad at them. Withdrawal from cigarettes puts them in a bad mood sometimes.
  • Encourage, support and celebrate your parent’s hard work towards quitting. Buy them a card or flowers, or bake them a cake.
  • Make a pledge to never start smoking. It will help inspire your parents to stay smoke-free, too.

If a smoker tries to quit but relapses:

Imagine if you studied really hard for a test, but then didn’t do well…and then your parents got mad at you about it. If that happened, you’d be frustrated and maybe a little bit angry, right? It’s similar for adults who try to quit, but go back to smoking. They probably tried very hard, so they can feel hurt if you get mad at them. So if your parent or another smoker you love really tries to quit but ends up smoking again, don’t get mad. Instead, remind them that:

  • Quitting isn’t easy. In fact, for many smokers, it takes two to three (or even more) tries before they quit for good.
  • You are proud of them for trying.
  • The fact that they tried is a step in the right direction, and they can always try again.
  • When they are ready to try again, you will be there to support them.

Interesting facts that might encourage a smoker to quit:

  • Twenty minutes after taking his or her last puff, a smoker’s blood pressure and pulse begin dropping back to normal.
  • Within one year after quitting, a smoker’s risk of a heart attack is decreased by 50 percent.
  • After 10-15 years of being smoke-free, an ex-smoker’s risk of lung cancer drops to one-half that of a smoker’s.
  • Ex-smokers enjoy a higher quality of life with fewer illnesses from cold and flu viruses, better self-reported health status, and reduced rates of bronchitis and pneumonia.
  • Food tastes better.
  • Sense of smell returns to normal.
  • Ordinary activities, such as climbing stairs or doing chores, no longer leave you out of breath.
  • A pack-a-day smoker will save over $1,400 in one year if not smoking. A two-pack-a-day smoker will save more than $2,800.

This text is courtesy of Children Helping and Motivating Parents to Stop Smoking (C.H.A.M.P.S.S.) and is associated with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.