You've tried everything to get your loved one to stop smoking--discussing the problem rationally, sharing details about negative health consequences, and pleading with them to quit--but nothing has worked. Encouragement alone isn't enough for some to quit. If you feel like you've run out of options in your anti-smoking arsenal, it may be time to try a "tough love" approach.
Tough love involves establishing clear boundaries and a caring but strict attitude. It may involve non-negotiable "punishments" designed to encourage restraint. Though it may be challenging to get used to tough love methods, it might be useful to help the smoker break their cycle of addiction. Try these tough-love tools to increase your influence:
Without boundaries, people with addictions like smoking will likely give their addictive behaviors free reign. If the smoker in your life has been ruling the roost by lighting up any time and any place, put your foot down about what you're willing to accept. For example:
- If you live with a smoker, state that you'll no longer accept any smoking in the house, or even near it.
- If you share a car with a smoker, make it clear that smoking won't be permitted in the vehicle.
- If you're traveling with a smoker, insist that no light-ups occur during the trip.
If your boundaries fall on deaf ears, you can up the ante by issuing an ultimatum. Let your loved one know the consequences of continuing to smoke, and then be prepared to follow through with them. For example, you might consider trying the following:
- If you live with a smoker, state that you'll move out if the smoker doesn't quit by a certain date.
- If your loved one smokes when you go out to do things together, say that you won't go along on these outings anymore unless the smoker quits.
- If there are resources that the smoker usually receives from you, say that you'll no longer provide them unless the smoker quits.
Cut Off Support
You may be inadvertently "enabling" your loved one to continue smoking if financial support that you provide is spent partly on cigarettes. For example, if your teenager smokes and you provide an allowance, it may be going toward the purchase of cigarettes. Or if you loan money to a friend who's a smoker, you may be helping to keep the friend's bad habit alive. If there's any chance your funds are fueling your loved one's "nic fit," stop providing them.
There are other forms of support that you may be providing that encourage the smoking habit as well. Do you give your time and energy talking to a smoker during a smoke break? If so, you're lending emotional support around the behavior. Instead, refuse to take the break as long as smoking is involved.
Don't Make Excuses
Another form of enabling is making excuses for your loved one's addictive behavior. If you're helping to make it more comfortable for your loved one to smoke, then you're contributing to the problem. Examine the role that you may be playing in supporting your loved one's bad habit and stamp it out.