If you don’t smoke, then life with a smoker can be challenging. From worrying about your loved one’s health to clashing over where they light up, smoking can become a source of conflict.
Lockdown restrictions will have exacerbated these tensions within many households, with non smokers forced to inhale second-hand smoke on a daily basis.
Concerns over the heightened risk faced by smokers from Covid-19 and the dangers of exposing children to second-hand smoke during lockdown, mean it’s more important than ever for smokers to quit the habit.
Persuading a smoker to change the habit of a lifetime, can be extremely difficult. A smoker has got to want to stop themselves and you may not be able to persuade them into taking action if they are not ready. Ultimately it is their decision. However there are ways for you to encourage them to think differently.
To help you to start conversations with a smoker about quitting, or changing their habits to protect you from second-hand smoke, we’ve put together a simple guide with some ideas you could try.
Get your facts straight before you start a conversation about why your partner should quit. Come armed with information about why quitting will benefit their health and the numerous deadly health conditions it causes. Simple, powerful statistics will help to strengthen your argument. Such as the fact that every 15 cigarettes they smoke will cause a genetic mutation in their body that could lead to cancer and that every cigarette contains 4,000 chemicals, many of which cause cancer. Tell them about the increased risk they face from Covid-19 if they continue to smoke. Evidence has shown that smokers are more likely to suffer more severe symptoms if they contract the virus.
Many people switch off when they hear bad news. Remember to speak not just about the dangers of smoking but about the huge benefits of quitting smoking and how their body will begin to recover within minutes of them stubbing out their last cigarette. Tell them that within a year of quitting smoking they will be 50% less likely to have a heart attack, heart disease or a stroke. Read our blog on what happens to your body when you quit smoking to find out how the body bounces back.
The financial impact of smoking can be huge. Remind the smoker about the cost of smoking. A 20 a day smoker will be forking out a massive £3796 a year on cigarettes, while a 10 a day smoker will spend £1898 a year on their habit. Talk to the smoker about what they could spend that money on instead – a family holiday for instance, or a contribution towards a new car, home improvements or to pay off debts.
Talk to the smoker about the different ways that they could quit and remind them that they don’t need to go it alone. You will be there to support them and there is great free, smoking cessation support available from NHS Wales Help Me Quit service which is currently offering help and advice via its helpline. Suggest that they make an appointment with their GP who can advise them on the options for quitting.
Find out about the different types of NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) that is available and suggest some options to the smoker. Tell that NRT will enable them to satisfy nicotine cravings without actually having to smoke and that they may need to try different types of NRT before finding the one that suits them best.
Suggest that they may want to consider vaping rather than smoking. Vaping mimics the hand to mouth action of smoking and delivers a hit of nicotine, however e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco and are 95% less harmful than conventional cigarettes, according to research by Public Health England. Find out where your local vape shop is and plan a visit when it is open.
Many smokers say they smoke to combat stress or anxiety. Explain to your smoker than smoking and the constant need to satisfy nicotine cravings, is actually a source of stress and that they could improve their mental health by quitting. Suggest alternative ways that they could deal with stress. Exercise can be particularly effective. A new hobby or project can also act as a distraction.
If the smoker in your life is not ready to quit at this time, then speak to them about the importance of not exposing those around them to second hand smoke. It is particularly important not to smoke in the home. Tell them that exposure to second hand smoke increases the risk of lung cancer in non-smokers by up to 30% and heart disease by up to 35%. Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of inhaling second hand smoke as their lungs are smaller and still developing. Passive smoking increases their risk of lower respiratory tract infections such as flu, bronchitis and pneumonia by 50%.
80% of cigarette smoke is invisible and hangs around in the air for four hours even after a cigarette has been stubbed out. Suggest to the smoker that they could try using NRT in the house to combat nicotine cravings and remind them that opening a window or using an air purifier while they smoke indoors, will not help. The only way to protect others in the household from second hand smoke is to leave the house, close the door and smoke outside, well away from other people.