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Smoking & lung cancer

A gentler approach can be a lot more effective

The vast majority of cigarette smokers are quite aware of how dangerous their habit is, and how their friends, coworkers, and society feel about it. But their addiction is among the very hardest to quit. Here are some simple tips to have a useful conversation with a friend who smokes.

Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer; smokers and non-smokers know this. So instead of guilting a smoking friend with a fact that he or she already knows, try suggesting something constructive, like a cancer screening! It could save a life; and deepen a friendship.

Nicotine addiction is among the most difficult of chemical dependencies to overcome. Also, it’s hard for a smoker to quit a habit they’ve engaged in, many times a day, their entire adult life. So instead of confronting them with an unsympathetic question, why not simply offer your help, in any way would actually help them quit?

Most smokers know very well how others feel about their habit. Shaming them only makes them feel worse about something they already feel bad about. It’s also a nearly useless way to prompt them into change. Much better (and nicer) is to offer your help and support in quitting a very powerful addiction.

Smokers are quite aware of the dangers of their habit. But nicotine is a powerfully addictive drug, and it’s not easy to quit doing something you’ve been doing many times a day, for many years. So instead of wagging a finger, why not extend a hand? Ask how they’re doing; tell them you care about their health. Use the carrot; not the stick.


Accusing someone of not loving their loved ones is a bit ludicrous, and a sure way to get them to tune you out. Here’s an idea: instead of shaming them, offer a bit of advice that could actually help them, and perhaps even get them—realistically—a step closer to quitting. That’s a better way to help them, and the ones they love.

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