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Posted on May 31, 2023 at 12:45 PM by Kari Bray
If you use tobacco, today could be a good day to pause and think about whether you want to quit, whether you’re ready to quit (hint: if you want to, the answer is probably yes, even if it’s hard), and what your next steps look like.
There are some great resources to help with quitting, and lots of information about the health impacts of tobacco use to highlight why quitting is important. If you’re looking for phone apps and quit lines, head straight to the last section of this blog, and congratulations on taking that step to find help with giving up tobacco.
If you don’t use tobacco, don’t tune us out quite yet. You can make a difference.
For World No Tobacco Day 2023, we want to talk about how people who don’t smoke or vape can be a force to help lower smoking and vaping in their communities. If someone in your life uses tobacco, you can be one of the supports that strengthens them when they are ready to quit.
Most people in the U.S. don’t smoke cigarettes or e-cigarettes (vapes). Smoking is at an all-time low, according to preliminary CDC survey data released this spring. About 8 in 9 adults indicated that they are not current smokers, and 16 of every 17 adults do not use e-cigarettes. However, vaping is on the rise even as traditional cigarette use drops. This is especially true for younger adults. Washington State’s Young Adult Health Survey found that nearly 50% of 18- to 25-year-olds used an e-cigarette in the past year.
Cigarette-free living has become the norm. That’s exciting, but it also means that most people may not understand how addictive tobacco products – including vapes – can be, and how hard it is to quit.
Here are three tips for supporting someone who is ready to quit:
Most tobacco users know about the harmful effects on their health. Generally speaking, they don’t need a lecture. They more likely need someone to understand that quitting is not easy, to believe in their ability to quit, and to encourage them, whether it’s their first attempt or they’re trying again.
They may also need someone who can be patient with their withdrawal from the addictive nicotine that’s in most tobacco products. They might be restless, irritable, or have other symptoms. Be patient, firm, and compassionate, and take care of yourself along the way. Supporting someone you care about when they are trying to quit can be stressful and emotional. Don’t lose sight of how important your own wellness is, too.
If someone you love is a smoker or vaper, you may already have thought about what you want to say to them. Maybe you have a list of resources and information to share. But have you heard what they want to say? Many people turn to smoking or vaping to try and cope with stress or anxiety, though research shows that smoking and vaping can make these experiences worse. It's important to understand the “why” behind a loved one’s choice to use tobacco and nicotine products.
Talking through the reasons they smoke, vape, chew, or otherwise use tobacco, as well as the reasons they want to quit, can help them make a plan. The same quit plan won’t work for everyone, so listening to them explain what helps and what doesn’t is valuable along the way. You don’t need to have an answer or observation for everything. Just being there is a big, important Step 1.
Also, if you are spending time in conversation with them – especially if you can combine it with an outing, a walk, a meal, or some other activity together – that’s time when they are not actively using tobacco. Distractions and activities together can be a boost for someone who is thinking about quitting.
There are resources that have been developed and are staffed by trained professionals with evidence-based tools to help people quit. You don’t need to be that expert or come up with that tool. Take some time and get to know the resources that are out there, even if you don’t need them personally. You may have the chance to make a difference by pointing someone in the right direction for help.