Prevention | Smoking
June 1, 2016

How to support a spouse who’s quitting smoking

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Yes, your sweetie might be cranky. Here’s how to help you both get through this.

 

If your spouse or another family member is trying to quit smoking cigarettes, that’s great news. This will almost immediately improve your loved one’s health.

But quitting can be tough, thanks to the symptoms of withdrawing from nicotine, the addictive substance in cigarettes. As you’ve probably noticed, common withdrawal symptoms include irritability, anxiety, depression, difficulty sleeping and increased appetite. Did we mention irritability?

So our first advice is to expect your loved one to feel cranky – and all those other feelings, too. Be patient. Don’t take it personally. And while you’re gracefully tolerating the moods, there are other things you can also do to increase your family member’s odds of quitting cigarettes for good:

If you’re also a smoker, quit! Like starting an exercise program, quitting smoking is a little bit easier if you do it with a buddy. You can hold each other accountable, provide motivation and moral support or maybe an element of competition. Your loved one will have a somewhat better time quitting if you’re not smoking yourself.

If you are a smoker and don’t intend to quit, at least:

  • Don’t smoke in the presence of the person trying to quit.
  • Don’t smoke in the house or car.
  • Don’t offer cigarettes to the person who is quitting.
  • Don’t leave cigarettes, lighters, ashtrays or anything else relating to smoking in places where your spouse can see or find them. If your spouse knows where you keep your own stash of smokes, stop storing your cigarettes there.

Keep gum, breath mints or toothpicks in the house, the car or in your pockets to offer to your spouse during cravings. If he or she is using nicotine replacement products, such as nicotine gum or lozenges, keep some on you to offer when needed. Studies have shown that people using such products, plus counseling, have greater success in quitting smoking than by stopping nicotine cold turkey.

Don’t test his resolve with temptation, either direct (daring the person to resist a smoke) or indirect (leaving cigarettes lying around).

Avoid taking your spouse places associated with smoking, such as bars or the homes of friends who smoke.

Distract your spouse when she’s craving a cigarette. This is the time to run errands together, go for a walk, take her someplace new, offer to do a chore together or provide some hands-on pampering. (Back rubs, anyone?) This great list offers ways to help your significant other get her mind off cravings until they subside.

Remind your spouse to call the TNQuitline when craving a cigarette: The Tennessee Tobacco Quitline is 1-800-784-8669. It can also be found at tnquitline.org. Add the number to the contacts list – better yet, the favorites list – in your spouse’s cellphone. This service helps smokers create a quitting plan, and provides counseling, which can be a powerful tool.

Take advantage of these resources, and encourage your spouse to do the same.

 

Smoking

Those at highest risk for lung cancer are ages 55 to 77; and current or former smokers with 30 or more pack years who have smoked in the past 15 years. See if lung cancer screenings are right for you.

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