GREAT AMERICAN SMOKEOUT: More than just one day

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by Kylie Schaper, BS, CHES ®

►► 6 tips to support smokers in quitting for good

November 15th is American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout – a day where smokers across the country start their journey to a healthy smoke-free life! Quitting smoking doesn’t happen in one day, it starts with day one.

Smoking cigarettes is the leading cause of avoidable death in the U.S. Every day, around 1,300 people in the U.S. will die because of cigarette smoking. There are many ways that someone can quit smoking and having a good support system is important for any strategy to work. Quitters with good support systems are more likely to succeed in staying smoke free than people without strong support systems.

Showing support can be harder than we think, here are 6 tips you can use to support the smoker in your life quit for good:

1. Understand that Quitting is hard –
Nicotine in cigarettes is a strong chemical that impacts the smokers body physically and mentally. Quitting is a long and tough process that might take multiple attempts. Find out information about how smoking impacts the body and why quitting is hard. This helps you have patience with the quitter, which is key to be a good supporter.

2. Start the Conversation –
If they bring up quitting smoking, respond positively. Let them know that you are there to support them through the quitting process. If they haven’t brought up quitting, ask them if they have thought about quitting smoking or bring up recent news about smoking to start the conversation.

3. Ask and Listen –
Ask them why they are quitting, what makes them want a cigarette, and how can you help make quitting easier. Listen to what they say – quitting is about them, make sure they are heard. Do not lecture, nag, tease, or scold, this could lead them to finding comfort in another cigarette.

4. Offer Distractions –
Help them get what they need to be successful in quitting smoking. Planning smoke-free activities is a great way to get their mind off cigarettes. You and the quitter could go to the movies, take a walk, have a game night, make dinner, or go to a concert.

5. Don’t Give Up –
Remind them that you are there to support them through the entire process, no matter if they have a slip or if they are hard to work with. Stick with them through the ups and the downs and remind them why they are quitting. Remind yourself about why quitting is hard and the positive impact it will have on the quitter’s life anytime you get frustrated.

6. Celebrate –
Recognizing the steps towards quitting, big or small, helps keep the process positive. It shows the quitter that their hard work is being noticed, which helps them stay on the path towards becoming smoke-free. You could send flowers or a card, surprise them with tickets to a show, give them a gift card to their favorite store, or simply complement them.

These 6 tips can help you help the smoker in your life quit smoking and stay smoke-free. To learn more about how to support the quitter in your life or about Great American Smoke out, you can find more information at or by calling 1-800-227-2345 .

American Cancer Society. (2018). Great American Smokeout. Retrieved from:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, & Office of Smoking and Health. (2014, January). The Health Consequences of Smoking: 50 Years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General Retrieved from:

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