Content Map Terms
Mental Health & Substance Use Categories
- Mental Health
- Notice: Savour the Moment
- Five Ways to Well-being
- Connect: Build Positive Relationships
- An Active and Healthy Brain
- Keeping an active and healthy mind
- Keep Learning: Open Your Mind
- Keeping Good Mental Well-Being as You Age
- Social Connections
- Depression in Older Adults
- Preventing Elder Abuse and Neglect
- Mental Health and Well-Being
- Alcohol Use
Parenting and Substance Use
- Building Kids’ Resilience
- Keep Having Conversations with Adult Children
- Keep Having Conversations with Kids
- Using Conversations That Teach Resilience: Adult Children
- Using Conversations to Teach Resilience: Kids
- Using Conversations to Teach Resilience: Teens
- How to Get Back on Track after Conflict
- Setting a Healthy Example for Your Kids
- Setting a Healthy Example for Your Teens
- Practicing Good Listening Skills with Teens
- How to Start a Conversation with Teens about Opioids
- Explaining Alcohol to Young Adults
- Opioids and Adult Children
- Tobacco Use
- Why is Using Tobacco So Addictive?
- Seniors and Tobacco
- Quitting Smoking: Dealing With Weight Gain
- Smoking: Health Risk for Family Members
- Interactive Tool: Are You Ready to Quit Smoking?
- Making Positive Changes in Your Life After Quitting Smoking
- Quitting Smoking: Temptations and Cravings
- My Reasons to Quit Smoking
- Quitting Smoking: Getting Support
- Quitting Smoking: Helping Someone Quit
- Quitting Smoking: Preventing Slips or Relapses
- Nancy's Story: Quitting Smoking Takes More Than Willpower
- Nate's Story: Sick of Smoking
- Quitting Smoking: Coping With Cravings and Withdrawal
- Interactive Tool: How Does Smoking Affect Your Lifespan?
- Interactive Tool: How Much Is Smoking Costing You?
- Alcohol & Drug Information Referral Service
- Anxiety Canada
- British Columbia Schizophrenia Society
- BC Mental Health & Substance Use Services
- Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research
- Canadian Mental Health Association - British Columbia
- Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of BC
- Crisis Line Association of BC
- Early Psychosis Intervention
- Family Smart
- Fraser Health Authority - Mental Health and Substance Use
- First Nations Health Authority – Mental Wellness and Substance Use
- British Columbia Responsible & Problem Gambling Program
- Interior Health Authority – Mental Health and Substance Use
- Jessie’s Legacy
- Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre
- Kids Help Phone
- KUU-US Crisis Line Society
- Mood Disorder Association
- Northern Health Authority – Mental Health and Addiction Services
- Toward the Heart
- Vancouver Coastal Health Authority – Mental Health and Substance Use
British Columbia Specific Information
The BC Smoking Cessation Program helps eligible B.C. residents stop smoking or using other tobacco products by assisting with the cost of smoking cessation prescription drugs or nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products. For more information about the program, including how to get started, visit BC Smoking Cessation Program. For information about the health risks from smoking, tips on how to quit, an overview of smoking cessation aids, and more, see our Quit Smoking health feature. For more tools and resources to help you quit smoking and remain smoke-free, visit Quit Now.
Your partner or friend has decided it's time to quit smoking.
This is great news. You're excited, and you want to help. But you don't want your partner or friend to feel that you're coming on too strong or that you're "checking up" on him or her.
This Actionset will give you tips on helping someone who is trying to quit smoking. The information also applies to other tobacco products, such as chew, snus, or snuff.
- You can help someone quit smoking by offering support and practical tips. Ask the person how you can help. Suggest getting support and using medicine, and find out if it's okay to ask how he or she is doing.
- Only the smoker can follow through with the decision to quit. It's his or her choice and challenge. You can help by giving the person support.
- Most smokers don't succeed the first time they try to quit. If the person begins smoking again, don't be disappointed or make the person feel guilty. Instead, help him or her think about trying to quit again.
- You can help yourself understand what the person is going through by learning about how nicotine affects smokers, how hard it is to stop smoking, what medicines are helpful, and what support is available in your area.
How can you help someone quit smoking?
Family and friends are an important source of support and motivation for a person who is trying to quit smoking.
Before offering help, ask if it's okay to help, and then ask what you can do. Don't assume that the person wants your help or that you know the best way to help.
If a person asks for your support, there are many things you may be able to do.
Share your smoking history
It is important to the person trying to quit to know whether you smoke, are an ex-smoker, or have never smoked.
- If you have never smoked: Tell the person that you have heard that it can be very tough to quit. If you know people who have quit, tell their quit stories. Don't make the person feel guilty.
- If you are an ex-smoker: Tell the person, but don't brag about it. Say that you know it's tough. And if you had to try many times before you quit, say so. Talk to the person about how quitting changed your health and sense of well-being. Talk about how you got through times when you wanted to smoke again.
- If you are a current smoker: Say so. Let the person know if you have tried to quit and failed. Tell the person that you believe he or she can quit. And pledge not to smoke around him or her or leave cigarettes or smoking supplies around. If you live with the person who is trying to quit, agree to smoke outside the house or apartment, or limit your smoking to one room. Better yet, agree to quit with the person.
- Give the person support. Let the person know that you're willing to talk or visit anytime he or she wants you to. When the person meets a quit-smoking goal, congratulate him or her. Treat him or her to a movie, give a small gift, or simply send an email or note to acknowledge his or her hard work and efforts.
- Ask the person if you can check to see how he or she is doing.
- Many smokers like to have something in their mouths. Keep a supply of hard candy, cut-up vegetables, or toothpicks in your home to offer to the person.
- Ignore grouchy moods. No matter how grouchy a person gets, continue to support him or her.
- Tell the person about the good changes you see. For example, tell the person if you notice that he or she is not as short of breath.
- Don't check up on the smoker, such as looking for ashtrays or sniffing for smoke.
Help with avoiding triggers
Smokers usually have triggers, which are things that make them want to smoke. You can help a smoker avoid these.
- Ask about the person's triggers, and see if you can help him or her avoid them. For example, if the person always smoked during a coffee break, see if you can call him or her to talk at this time.
- Do things together, such as going to movies or on walks. Activity may help the person think less about smoking and decrease nicotine cravings.
- Alcohol is often a trigger. If possible, keep the person away from places where alcohol is used.
- Help out with daily tasks, such as shopping or cooking. This could help relieve stress, which is a major trigger for smoking.
Help someone who relapses
Most people need more than one try to stop smoking. If the person slips up, let him or her know that it's okay and that you still care.
- Give the person credit for whatever length of time (days, weeks, or months) that he or she didn't smoke.
- See what you both learned from the attempt. Are there any triggers to look out for? Should the person try phone counselling, medicine, or nicotine replacement therapy?
- When the person smokes again, it may be a one-time slip. Remind your friend about how long he or she had gone without smoking and why he or she wanted to quit in the first place.
- Tell the person that it was right to try to quit, and urge him or her to try to quit again. Use positive language, such as "when you try again," not "if you try again."
There are many resources available to help someone quit smoking, and they make quitting more likely. Here are some ideas you can suggest:
- Join a support group for people who are quitting. People who have quit or are quitting know what quitters go through and can help you.
- Try a free stop-smoking app if the person has a smartphone or a tablet device. Helpful app features include being able to track progress, learning stress reduction tricks, or allowing others to support you such as with text messaging or links to community bulletin boards or social media.
- Get counselling (by telephone, one-on-one, on the Internet, or in a group). The more counselling a person gets, the better his or her chances of quitting. Counselling sessions can also help if the person starts smoking again.
- Look for a smoking cessation program. Visit the Government of Canada's "You can quit smoking" webpage at www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/smoking-tobacco/quit-smoking/tips-help-someone-quit-smoking/you-can-quit-smoking-we-can…, or call 1-866-366-3667.
Current as of: March 22, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Brian D. O'Brien MD - Internal Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
John Hughes MD - Psychiatry
Christine R. Maldonado PhD - Behavioral Health
Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Important Phone Numbers
If you or someone you know needs help, call one of the numbers below:
- 9-1-1 if you are in an emergency.
- 8-1-1 for non-emergency information on how to access alternatives to toxic drug supply and substance use services
- 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) if you are considering suicide or are concerned about someone who may be.
- 310Mental Health Support at 310-6789 (no area code needed) for emotional support, information and resources specific to mental health.
- Kid’s Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 to speak to a professional counsellor, 24 hours a day.
- Alcohol & Drug Information and Referral Service at 1-800-663-1441 (toll-free in B.C.) or 604-660-9382 (in the Lower Mainland) to find resources and support.
Find support near you
Find mental health and substance use supports and services available in B.C.
Support looks different for everyone. Search for services like help hotlines, wellness programs, harm reduction resources and more.