June 24th, 2024

Viva Vitality: Celebrating World No Tobacco Day

By Megan Burland on May 31, 2024.

World No Tobacco Day (WNTD), recognized annually on May 31, is a chance to raise awareness about the impacts of tobacco use. This might make you think of a loved one that you wish would consider quitting tobacco or a tobacco-like product. Have you ever got the impression that these well wishes were not well received? Sometimes our attention to the matter can come off as nagging or unsupportive. Let’s talk about a few things that we can do this WNTD to truly support those in our lives who are actively considering a quit attempt.

One of the first steps is to understand the persons readiness to tackle a quit attempt. While well-meaning, hounding someone who is simply not ready to consider quitting tobacco is not usually helpful. You could try to understand their openness to quitting by having them rank their interest on a scale of 1-10 (1 being not interested in quitting at all, 10 being very interested in quitting). What are their reasons for or against quitting? What is their timeline? Through this open conversation, hopefully they will feel heard.

If they are interested or working on a quit attempt, then simply ask them what you can do to be helpful. This is a very personal journey, and this may not be their first quit attempt. They may have some wisdom and expertise regarding what you can do to be helpful. Here are some common examples of how you could be supportive:

Be encouraging, reminding them of the positive aspects of quitting and their personal reasons for quitting now.

Be patient with the range of emotions that someone may experience when quitting and check in for signs of depression and anxiety.

Help celebrate success along the way! One hour, one day, one week, one month, one year without tobacco… these are all milestones worth celebrating! What are meaningful ways that they want to celebrate?

Help distract them if a strong nicotine craving hits. Some examples of quick distractions include deep breathing, a short walk, drinking cold water, playing with a fidget toy etc.

Helping to brainstorm new ways to spend their time. Many people who quit smoking find they have more time on their hands. Do they want to join a local pottery class with you? Go for weekly walks? Have a nightly phone call?

Another way you can be supportive is by encouraging your friend/loved one to check out the many supports available to them through AlbertaQuits. There is information online, access to phone/text support and group support available through QuitCore. Visit https://albertaquits.healthiertogether.ca/getting-help/ or call 1-866-710-7848 for more information. They may also want to visit their local pharmacy as pharmacists are very knowledgeable in nicotine replacement therapy which may help along the way.

You can play an important role in helping those around you successfully quit tobacco and tobacco-like products Remember to approach your loved one with patience and understanding, for many people this process takes time.

Megan Burland is a health promotion facilitator with Alberta Health Services.

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