man smoking next to woman

Living with a smoker can be difficult, especially when you're a non-smoker. Mixed feelings of annoyance and concern are common. You care about the person smoking and you wish you could help them quit for good. While cigarette smoking is an extremely addictive habit, it's not impossible to break. By staying positive and giving your loved ones the support they need, you can help them to kick the habit, improve their health, and possibly even add years to their lives.

1. Be understanding.
Before you approach someone close to you about trying to quit smoking, make sure you understand their addiction. According to a 2010 study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nicotine is as addictive as heroin, cocaine, or alcohol. Nicotine causes both physical and psychological reactions in the body that make eliminating it from one's system a difficult process. Understanding that withdrawal symptoms are real and often intense will enable you to be more supportive of your loved ones as they try to quit.

2. Be accepting.
Once you've done your research and have an idea of the nature of nicotine addiction and the challenges that may arise, it's time to talk to your friend or family member about quitting. Keep in mind that it's ultimately their decision whether or not to quit. If they're not ready or willing to give up cigarettes, don't push the issue. It may be difficult--especially if you're concerned about a loved one's health--but pressuring a person to quit when they're not ready is more likely to prolong their smoking than hasten their decision to give up the habit.

3. Be supportive.
Once your loved one is ready to quit, be prepared to be unconditionally supportive. Nicotine withdrawal is likely to cause mood swings and increased feelings of anxiety, which may result in a few harsh words directed your way. Try not to take it personally, as these symptoms usually begin to pass after two weeks. Give the person space if they want it or offer to spend time with them doing something that will keep their mind off smoking. Help to alleviate some of their stress by taking on some of their responsibilities, such as childcare or cooking. Avoid the temptation to give advice or check in on the person's progress more often than necessary. While you may have the best intentions, your unsolicited guidance may come across as aggravating or even condescending.

4. Be prepared.
To make your house quit-friendly, get rid of all cigarettes, lighters, and ash trays. Stock up on healthy snacks like fresh veggies and keep gum, hard candy, cinnamon sticks, straws, and toothpicks to help combat cravings.

5. Be encouraging.
If the quitting process is going well, celebrate! Kicking a nicotine habit is a feat that deserves recognition. Milestone celebrations will also give the new non-smoker something to look forward to and can serve as incentives to keep up the good work.

6. Be resilient.
While successfully quitting smoking on a first attempt is a noble goal, it's often unrealistic. Don't get discouraged if your loved one slips up during the process or relapses completely. If you stay supportive, remind them how far they're come, and ensure them you'll be there to help with their next attempt, chances are they can kick the habit for good. Quitting smoking isn't an easy process for the smoker or their loved ones, but working together can bring lasting success.