Should Coaching Vary by Types of Tobacco?

Should Coaching Vary by Types of Tobacco?

There are many different types of tobacco: Cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and smokeless tobacco are some of the most common. But is coaching for all types of tobacco the same?

To get to the answer, ponder these parallel questions:

  • Would you ask snowboarders what kind of ski poles they use?
  • Would you refer to serious runners as “joggers”?
  • Would you be OK if the person who takes your coffee order butchers your name when they write it on your cup?

Probably not.

(As a sidebar, I’ve seen many interesting iterations of my own name on coffee orders—Margret, Margrette, Maragaret…you get the idea. I’ve also observed friends named Sarah and Sara quite put out when that “h” is missing or added in error.) 

When coaching people through live chat to quit smoking, vaping, or chewing, we know that using the correct terms and language matter. And doing so increases our credibility as EX Coaches to help tobacco users quit.

Different types of tobacco, different language

To give you a flavor for what this looks like, here are a few examples of how we tailor coaching to types of tobacco.

Smokeless tobacco

We’ve found that people who use smokeless tobacco (dip/chew) are not keen on being asked how many cigarettes per day they smoke when recommending their medication dosage. We can typically see what types of tobacco they use in the information when a chat comes through. So, we strive to instead ask questions like: ”how many cans of tobacco do you go through in a week?” and “how soon do you chew or dip in the morning after waking up?”.

Those who chew/dip may get a stronger amount of nicotine because they can use it more discreetly (and more often) than people who smoke cigarettes. This is helpful information to know, especially when discussing medication options. Here’s why: combining something like the patch with gum or lozenge may be a better option than using one type of quit medication alone if they are getting a higher level of nicotine.


For people who vape, the products available on the market constantly change. There are disposable pens, like Puff Bars and Cali Pens, that are becoming very popular. There are also people who use JUUL pods, among other products.

Figuring out how much nicotine they get from these products can be difficult to gauge as there are different milligram levels.

Knowing the products they use can help EX Coaches determine the right quit medication. For example, it can help us determine if combining the nicotine patch with the gum or lozenge may be a good fit or if using the gum or lozenge alone could be enough.

Another consideration when coaching people who are quitting vaping is understanding that in some cases the vape is what helped them quit cigarettes.

There can be a delicate relationship people have in this situation, as they may view vaping as a positive and helpful tool in their lives. However, there can be another part of them that feels conflicted and wants to quit vaping.

Referring to their previous success with quitting smoking and encouraging them that they can be successful quitting vaping, too, often helps increase their self-efficacy around quitting. Remembering they were successful before means they can be successful again.

For more information about e-cigarettes, download “5 Things Employers Need to Know about E-cigarettes.”

Nuances in language matter to engage individuals in quitting

Through live chat, we listen to what our chatters tell us. If they refer to their vape as a pen, or their smokeless tobacco as dip, we match our language to theirs so they feel heard.

Part of the struggle with quitting different types of tobacco is that these products can become part of the tobacco user’s identity. Using the wrong language can feel like a personal attack and that is not a barrier we want in our coaching relationship.

We want people to feel understood. And we know matching their language is like referring to them by the right name in the coffee shop. This says we know you and we care about you to get it right.

Margaret LaPlante
Margaret LaPlante

EX Coach Lead

Margaret collaborates with the live chat team to ensure protocols are always current and research based. She trains the EX Coaches to get participants the help and medication support they need for a successful quit. Margaret has been delivering tobacco cessation coaching since 2004, helping others get the personalized help they need.

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