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How to Help a Friend

Let’s say you have a friend who wants to quit smoking and you're wondering just what you can do to help. You can make a big difference and here are a few ideas how.

Be Understanding -- Hardly any smoker says they're ready to quit "first thing tomorrow." In fact, there are actually several stages a smoker goes through. And in most cases there's a lot of time between "getting used to the idea," "getting ready to do it" and actually "getting serious." Just let them know you care, whatever stage they're in. But don't nag or pressure them - it could backfire.

Be Proactive - Keep in mind that your friend is the one who needs to make the decision - but that doesn't mean you can't do a little homework. Scope out some of the cessation programs available on-line or on your campus. Do some research on quitting. Then, when the subject comes up, you'll be ready, willing and able to lend a hand.

Be Supportive - When they do decide to take the plunge, be supportive. Chances are, the withdrawal symptoms may turn them into someone you don't even want to hang with! They may be cranky, anxious or just plain difficult. But hang in there, the symptoms will pass - usually in a few days. And remember, don't take the emotional ups and downs personally - they are not your fault.

Be Thoughtful - If you smoke, try not to smoke around your friend. When you do things together, suggest doing an activity that doesn't include smoking and try hanging out in places where smoking is not allowed, like malls, movie theaters or restaurants.

Be There - Helping your friend to stay tobacco-free can be a challenge. It's a fact, lots of people trying to quit will relapse. The thing to remember is to not come down too hard on them. Just remind them of the reasons they wanted to quit in the first place, the progress they've made so far and encourage them to try again if they relapse. Bottom line, just be there for them.

And finally, what can you do if your friend says they smoke, but not cigarettes? Lots of people think that smoking marijuana is harmless, but think again. Marijuana smokers actually encounter many of the same respiratory problems as tobacco smokers. Click here to learn more about Smoking and Marijuana.

Want some concrete suggestions on quitting to give your friend? Check out the following links:

Setting a Quit Date and Deciding on a Plan

What to do When the Quit Day Comes

Would you like to learn even more about being a supportive friend and peer?  Read about our Certified Peer Educator training or talk to your campus peer education advisor.

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