How can I get my boyfriend to quit smoking?

I’m afraid it’s up to him, says our elder. You have done everything you can.

Dear EWC

Hello, I am hoping you could help me with getting my boyfriend to quit smoking cigarettes. I know you can’t give medical advice, but maybe some advice on how to convince him and how to support him. So we have been dating for three years. He is 26 and I’m two years younger. He has been smoking since college but within the last year or so it’s gotten out of hand. He used to only smoke while drinking but within the last six months or so I have been catching him smoking in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, and having an even larger number on weekends. Even his friends have taken notice. He told me he was going to seriously quit on New Year’s, then that he’d quit after his brother’s bachelors party, then after this and that. The worst part is that he has bad health in his family. His mom has diabetes and his dad has had seizures and now has early and severe dementia. All of these can be caused or exacerbated by smoking! He says he smokes because he is so stressed (from work, his responsibilities of taking care of his sick father). But he is only 26! It’s going to get a lot more stressful! And I tell him this is no way to relieve stress. Not to mention he is unhealthy in other facets of life (eats horribly, drinks, doesn’t get enough exercise). I’ve tried being understanding and supportive, I’ve tried being mad, I’ve tried negotiating, I’ve tried getting him Nicorette gum and patches. We talk about it but I think it’s going in one ear and out the other. I would love and appreciate any advice at all. I know he has to want to give it up first — but I’m not even sure he is convinced! Or that he knows where to go from there. Thank you for any advice you have.

Good-Listener replies

I applaud the efforts to get your boyfriend off of cigarettes. Your story is not new, but it’s happening to you so that’s why it’s important. You don’t have to be a medical professional to know that smoking is an addiction. And, addictions are hard to deal with. The thing is this: You’ve done everything humanly possible to get your friend to stop and he hasn’t. You can’t force anyone to do anything and, at this point by your own admission, he has all the information. It’s up to him. I would suggest he get counseling or even join some kind of support group. You mentioned that his other life habits are not much better — and he is doing that despite his family history. He won’t change unless he wants to and you’ve done everything you can. If he’s not ready, he’s not ready. Sometimes people never are. Sometimes it takes a major crisis to get them to change. I would decide how much you can handle. Be honest with yourself and either accept him for who he is or move on. That’s not easy — but if you’re thinking of a future and children, etc., it has to be discussed or acknowledged.

You might even consult a therapist or counselor — yourself — to get real professional help. If you can get him to go with you, that’s great too, but he may not agree to it. However, for your own sanity — and to make the best decisions you can, seeing an addiction specialist (most therapists will have training in addictions considering the situations today) could help you going forward. I wish you only the best. Good luck!

Letter #: 424937
Category: Self-Improvement

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