If someone you love is a smoker, you're more than likely dealing with an addiction. Social smoking, or the kind of smoking that is thought to be just a once-and-awhile situational kind, without addiction to nicotine, is not the norm [source: Hainer]. Most smokers get hooked by the nicotine going into the brain and body, and it can happen so quickly and at such an early age that parents even are advised to warn against smoking beginning when kids are 5 to 6 years old [source: American Lung Association].
Whether or not the smoker in your life wants to use or wants to avoid the "addicted" label, it's a reality that may be helpful in keeping the right frame of mind. Being overly emotional or overly factual about the dangers and lasting effects for the smoker and family and friends, or getting angry and taking it personally, won't change the addiction that is already planted and probably even growing. Lead with words from the heart about why you want to encourage a loved one to stop and be ready to offer concrete steps for when the person is ready.
Spending time "in" the problem with the smoker, and recognizing that no one is above addiction or weakness, shows understanding, empathy and awareness of the human weakness and chemical strength of dependencies. But don't let smokers off the hook; gently reel them back in each time interest in quitting is waning. Provide support through steps forward and any steps back by rewarding and knowing when to gently rebuke. Encouragement includes speaking the truth in love and knowing when a loved one is struggling, rebelling or maybe even trying to play you and light up out of sight. Be there through all of it with consistent calm, love and logic.
More Great Links
- American Cancer Society. "Helping a Smoker Quit: Dos and Don'ts." Cancer.org. Nov. 3, 2010 (April 29, 2011)http://www.cancer.org/healthy/stayawayfromtobacco/helping-a-smoker-quit
- American Lung Association. "Health Effects." LungUSA.org. 2011. (April 19, 2011)http://www.lungusa.org/stop-smoking/about-smoking/health-effects/
- American Lung Association. "Stop Smoking." LungUSA.org. 2011. (April 19, 2011)http://www.lungusa.org/stop-smoking/
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "Resources for Individuals, Smoking and Tobacco Use." Feb. 14, 2011. (April 19, 2011)http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/resources_for_you/individuals/index.htm
- Curiosity.com. "Can prayer heal?" (April 19, 2011)http://curiosity.discovery.com/question/can-prayer-heal
- Hainer, Ray. "Social Smokers Aren't Hooked on Nicotine, Just Smoking." CNN.com. April 24, 2010. (April 29, 2011)http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/04/24/social.smokers/index.html
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General. "Tobacco Cessation: You Can Quit Smoking Now!" 2011. (April 30, 2011)http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/tobacco/
- World Bank. "Global Trends in Tobacco Use." WorldBank.org. 2011. (April 19, 2011)http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/TOPICS/EXTHEALTHNUTRITIONANDPOPULATION/0,,print:Y~isCURL:Y~contentMDK:22760718~menuPK:282516~pagePK:148956~piPK:216618~theSitePK:282511~isCURL:Y~isCURL:Y,00.html