Video discusses why even though I have been involved in smoking prevention and cessation services for several decades, as a general principle I normally don’t ask people not to smoke.
2002 Commentary from the Freedom from Nicotine board:
I notice some people respond to other members pleas for help with comments like, “Please don’t smoke.” I am not saying not to do it, but I want to point out something that was once said to me by a clinic graduate that really seemed to make a difference to him in joining in my program and staying in it. He pointed out that I never once made a plea or request of him or any of the people in his clinic not to smoke.
As I thought about that after it was first pointed out to me I realized it was true. I realized that I probably never had said it to anyone, except maybe at my first clinic when I was totally clueless to what I was doing. I basically never asked people not to smoke or tell people not to smoke, which is pretty interesting since I have spent a high percentage of my life talking or writing to people about not smoking.
So why have I never made such pleas or requests of others? Well I always tell people they have to quit for themselves. I always explain that you cannot do it for your spouse, your children, your parents, your friends, your employer, your society or your government. Well, if you can’t quit or stay off for these other significant people, why in the world should I expect that you would quit or stay off because I am asking you politely not to smoke. You have to be quitting for you, not for me or any other caring individual.
So my tactic has always been to find out what the person really wants to do at the time of making such comments as to wanting to smoke. I make sure that they truly consider the full implications of a full-blown relapse. I try to make them recall their own initial reasons for quitting. I try to ask questions to make them remember just why they quit and why they likely don’t want to go back to smoking. I try to give them one piece of advice to secure the quit, to never take another puff. Once again, that term I use over and over again is always just advice–it is never a demand or a request.
Whenever I write “never take another puff” it is prefaced by a comment of, “if you want to stay free” or “still choose not to smoke,” or “want to save your health or your life,” or something to the effect that it is what the ex-smoker wants to do as opposed to what I want them to do. Each and every person has to keep his or her own reasons personal of why he or she does not want to smoke.
I am not saying that no one here should not make such statements; it is kind of a personal style issue. But I would advise everyone when dealing with others here, and maybe more importantly, people in your real world, your family and friends, make sure that you come across as offering support, advice and information as opposed to making requests or demands on another person not to smoke.
We do make one request here though. We ask our members to write us and give us a little time to respond before throwing away his or her quit. When we do this we are not telling the person not to smoke or to wait for us to have a chance to tell them not to smoke. Rather we are just trying to get the opportunity to talk to the person and point out the full implications of smoking and make sure that he or she fully understands the full ramifications of a relapse.
If the person still desires to smoke after such information is fully understood, well then smoking is an option for him or her. But if he or she decides that his or her desire is to still stay smoke free, then he or she will be reminded that the only way to stay free from cigarettes is to never take another puff!