A site that encourages smokers to quit and provides tips to friends and family on how to motivate a smoker to quit without nagging, shaming or blaming. Also check out my website with several videos on becoming smoke-free at: www.VJSleight.com and connect with me on LinkedIn at :www.linkedin.com/in/vjsleight .
Friday, September 5, 2014
I am a former smoker, what should I do went I am with my friends who still smoke?
Just something to think about when you are with friends who still smoke----None of us want to be that nasty holy-than-thou former smoker who shames their smoking friends but do you
1. want to be around secondhand smoke?
2. Enable your friend in their addiction?
1. Secondhand smoke is a carcinogen. Instead of saying to a friend--"you can't smoke around me." Say- "I (have a medical problem, for me it was cancer) and my doctor has told me not avoid 2nd smoke as much as possible, it is best for my health. I'm not telling you to not smoke, only that I can't be around it. When she lights up--excuse yourself and wait until she is through and then come back. You don't need to say anything else. You don't need to say what the medical problem is--it could be one of the many risk factors for heart disease or cancer. you might have diabetes, or be pregnant.
2. Enabling addiction--if your friend was shooting heroin would you stay around them and enable them to continue to use heroin? Heroin is less likely to kill your friend than smoking. Most smokers if they are really honest - do want to quit. In the Stages of Change--the first step is not-wanting to quit, one of the psychological interventions is-- social liberation---making their behavior a problem for THEM. People say you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink. I feel it is my duty to make that horse AWARE of his thirst and then remove all obstacles between him and the water. In other words, smokers won't quit until smoking is a problem for THEM. Every little thing that makes it more inconvenience for them to smoke, is another little irritation that changes their thinking from "I don't want to quit, to - maybe I should think about quitting."
Three examples: 1. A girlfriend of mine wanted her husband to quit smoking. He could only smoke outside and so they spent a lot of time on the patio so he could smoke. My recommendation to her was to stop sitting out there when he smoked. She didn't need to say anything but by staying out there while he smoke, was condoning his behavior--he had no reason to change--he could smoke AND enjoy her company. If she stopped going out there he was not getting the reinforcement (of her company) that he wanted. He started smoking less and finally did quit.
2. A girlfriend of mine, who smoked, came to visit (she lived in another state). I told her that she couldn't smoke inside my house but could go outside. First time she went out, she left the glass door open and was still talking to me as she lit up. I came over and closed the door and remained inside. I said I didn't want the smoke smell coming into my house. Years later she told me that the action of closing the door on her--caused her to smoke less cigarettes and less of each cigarette. She also thought about her behavior. I don't know if she ever quit since we lost contact over the years.
3. I used to run a singles club (Sizzling Singles--another story but a whole lot of fun). We would meet in bars when you could still smoke in bars. Often smokers would come up to me with a lit cigarette to ask me a question. I would immediately stop them and say--"Just a minute I'll be right back." I would either go to the bathroom, to the bar to get some water or some other excuse. Once their cigarette was out, I would go back to them and say either, "I'm a former smoker and I find I am so tempted to bum a smoke that I just can't be around a lit cigarette" or "I'm a cancer survivor and my doctor has told me to avoid 2nd hand smoke as much as possible", sometimes I used both answers. No one was ever offended but sympathized with me and often said they wished they could quit too.
In each case, no one told the smoker to not smoke, no one was "shamed" about their smoking but boundary lines were set by either blaming your doctor or yourself that you can't be around smoke, making it your problem, not shaming them that they have a problem. But in a subtle way the smoker is given a problem--"I can't smoke and be around my friend". You have just started making that horse be aware that maybe they are thirsty.