How to Motivate Someone to Quit Smoking—and Stay Quit

How to Motivate Someone to Quit Smoking—and Stay Quit

Wonder how to motivate someone to quit smoking, especially when they’re not ready to quit?

The good news is most people who smoke do want to quit.

But sometimes what it takes to motivate someone to quit isn’t the same thing that helps someone stay quit.

This is why it’s best to offer several elements as part of your cessation program to help individuals quit for good.

Let me explain.

For starters, how to motivate someone to quit smoking

About half of U.S. adults who smoke make a quit attempt each year. But what about the other half who say they are not ready to quit? Is there a way to encourage them?

A 2022 study investigated this very question.

They reviewed 25 studies involving nearly 9,000 participants that tested different strategies to encourage quit attempts. These included: motivational counseling, reduction counseling, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), varenicline (a medication used for smoking cessation), and low-nicotine cigarettes, in combination or alone.

The review found evidence that using varenicline or NRTs were effective in encouraging quit attempts.

Quit medication can help diminish the discomfort of craving and withdrawal, making quitting seem more possible (and less miserable). Having easy access to quit medication can prompt some tobacco users who otherwise wouldn’t have tried to make a quit attempt.

After quit medication, here’s what helps someone stay quit

Interestingly, the study found that other strategies—such as counseling—did not encourage quit attempts but led to better quitting outcomes after attempts are made.

Once a tobacco user decides to make a quit attempt, it’s important to offer additional help, such as counseling and social support. This gives users the tools they need to be successful in quitting.

How a robust program makes living tobacco-free possible

At the EX Program, we boost motivation by helping tobacco users see that success is possible and by giving them the tools to quit.

We make quit medication available to all sponsored users as soon as they join. Participants can receive up to 8 weeks of nicotine patches, gum, or lozenges delivered right to their home, after they live chat with an EX Coach.

In fact, we encourage all users to order the medication, whether they plan to use it or not, as it may prompt quit attempts.

Our site also offers robust resources on all quitting medications, including over-the-counter, prescriptions, and alternative therapies. We explain how nicotine addiction works and how medication can help. And we bust common myths and misconceptions that sometimes keep people from exploring medication options.

The EX Program also includes the longest running online community for 24/7 social support. Each day, members share powerful tips and tools that ultimately helped them be successful.

Our EX Coaches—certified Tobacco Treatment Specialists with years of experience—help members tap into their curiosity about quitting and address their fears and barriers to trying.

On-demand text messaging and our suite of other quitting tools can be used before, during, and post-quit to keep individuals motivated to live tobacco-free.

See more about the EX Program and how we address the factors that motivate and sustain a successful quit from tobacco by visiting our Program page.

Sarah Cha, MSPH

Managing Director, Research

Sarah Cha oversees all research and evaluation activities for the EX Program. She has over a decade of experience in developing and evaluating digital tools for tobacco use cessation, including websites, mobile apps, and text message-based programs. Cha has overseen recruitment of large clinical trials (combined 14K+ participants), including multiple NIH-funded R01s. She received her Master of Science in Public Health in Health Education and Health Communication from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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