This post represents a sponsored editorial partnership with the American Cancer Society. All storytelling and opinions are, of course, my own.
My husband, John, started smoking cigarettes when he was only 13 years old. I think that most people who smoke, started smoking at an early age. There’s so much peer pressure, and curiosity to try new things. It’s really easy to give in to that at such a young, vulnerable age.
When Your Partner Smokes, and You Don’t…
Never having smoked before, it was quite an adjustment for me to start dating a smoker when John and I first got together. We’d be in the middle of doing something, and I’d have to stop what I was doing to wait for him to go have a cigarette. There was the constant smell of tobacco on him and all of his clothing, which I was not used to. There were the multiple trips to the convenience store (sometimes very late at night, or in the middle of a snowstorm, etc.) to buy more cigarettes. Above all, there was the concern I had for his health.
For a while, I had hoped that he would quit smoking, but I never pressured him into it. We talked about it on a few occasions, and he expressed interest in it, but I didn’t force the issue on him. I just told him that I would be there to support him if he ever did decide to quit, and I reminded him of all of the things he would gain if he did – whiter teeth, easier breathing, more money in his pocket, better health, etc.
When They Finally Quit…
John had tried to quit multiple times in the past, but as any smoker will tell you, it was very difficult, and he didn’t succeed. About 6 months into our relationship, he decided to try again, cold turkey. It was a rough few months for him, and I did my best to be there for him and support him. I listened to him when he needed to vent, I distracted him when all he could think about was smoking. He succeeded in quitting that time, and even though he had quit for 3.5 years after that, he still craved tobacco, especially when he saw other people smoking, or got a whiff of cigarette smoke. It was a constant struggle for him, and I was so proud of him for not giving in.
When They Start Smoking Again…
A few months ago, as we were preparing for our wedding, and his family to come to stay with us for a few days, he became very stressed out and started smoking cigars. He didn’t tell me at first, because he was ashamed and embarrassed. I smelled tobacco on his breath one night after he came home from work, though, and confronted him about it. He broke down and told me how stressed out he had been feeling, and that he was sorry to start smoking again, especially during what was supposed to be one of the happiest times of our life, preparing for our wedding. He promised to quit after everything settled down, and that he just needed to get through those couple of weeks.
Inside, I felt very disappointed. We have a one year old daughter, I am pregnant with our son, and we were preparing for our wedding. I felt as though he was being very selfish, but I tried my best to put myself in his shoes and instead of yelling at him, which is what I really wanted to do, I just told him that I would be there to support him again when he was ready to quit.
How Becoming a Parent Changes Things…
I reminded John that we now had children to think about, and hoped that would help to give him more motivation to quit. Even though he wasn’t smoking in front of our daughter, the smell was still on his clothing and in our vehicle, and she was being exposed to third-hand smoke, which is contamination by tobacco smoke that lingers, even after a cigarette has been put out.
John has now quit smoking again, and I could not be any prouder. I know it’s so very hard for him, every day, and especially when he has a particularly stressful day. I try my best to just be there for him on the days when I know all he wants to do is smoke. I think it’s very important to be as supportive as possible when helping a loved one quit smoking. That means not getting mad at them if they fail, not saying mean things, or making them feel ashamed. I know it’s very difficult and frustrating to watch someone you love smoke, but doing things like that doesn’t help their situation at all. They are already feeling ashamed enough, and making them feel worse isn’t going to help them quit. In fact, it may do just the opposite, and cause them to give up on quitting. The best thing you can do is just be there for them. Listen to them, encourage them, and if they fail, just let them know it’s ok, and that you’ll continue to be there for them when they are ready to try quitting again.
The Great American Smokeout…
If you have a loved one that smokes, here is a great opportunity to help support them and encourage them to quit:
Thursday, November 20th marks the American Cancer Society’s 38th year of the Great American Smokeout (GASO). The GASO is an initiative to encourage smokers to commit to quit or make a plan to quit on that day. Sometimes just knowing that other people are going through the same thing can help tremendously. By quitting, even for one day, smokers will take a critical step to a healthier life that can reduce the risk of cancer.
“Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the US, yet about 42 million Americans still smoke cigarettes — a bit under 1 in every 5 adults. As of 2012, there were also 13.4 million cigar smokers in the US, and 2.3 million who smoke tobacco in pipes — other dangerous and addictive forms of tobacco.” – cancer.org
Those statistics are just astounding. Let’s all try to help and encourage our loved ones to get help and quit smoking for life. When John quit smoking, he got his life back, and I feel like I got mine back too. Our future looks so much brighter without tobacco in it.
If you’d like to know more about the Great American Smokeout, you can call 1-800-227-2345, or visit the Quit for Life Facebook Page. Their website also has loads of amazing resources and information on quitting smoking, including the benefits of quitting.
Will you encourage a loved one to quit smoking during the Great American Smokeout?