Couples who quit smoking together have a higher rate of success. Here's how to plan and complete your quit together.
Why quitting is easier if you do it together
Just like getting fit and losing weight, quitting smoking is easier if your partner is on the same health kick.1 Research published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) showed that, when one partner quit smoking, the other partner was much more likely to make the same healthy behaviour change.1
The study, which used data from 3,722 couples who participated in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, found 50% of women and 48% of men quit successfully if they had a partner who was also quitting. 1 Conversely, only 8% of people who quit alone while their partner continued to smoke were successful. 1
Further Aussie research reveals, perhaps unsurprisingly, that couples who are highly satisfied with their relationships are more likely to quit smoking. 2
Quitting for two
Here are some practical tips to support each other on the journey to becoming smoke free:
- Think about how you and your partner influence each other’s smoking. Do you always smoke together at the same time each day? Do you use smoking as a reward? Make a list of your daily smoking patterns and choose some alternate activities to do together instead – go for a walk, start a new hobby together, or spend time preparing healthy snacks to distract you from cigarette cravings 3 .
- Throw away all cigarettes, lighters and ashtrays in your home and cars4 – including any sneaky stash you or your partner might keep in the shed, the glove box, office drawer or bedside cupboard.
- Distract each other to ward off cravings. The urge to smoke usually passes within a few minutes 5 so telling a funny story or sending your partner a funny cat video may be all it takes!
- If busy lifestyles and stress impact on your smoking habits, talk to your partner about ways to cope. You might figure out a schedule for who does the cooking and other household chores, sign up to a yoga class together, or commit to going to bed an hour earlier each night.
- Buddy up at social events where alcohol is served and have a plan for managing what you drink while you are quitting.
- Make a joint appointment with your doctor: you're up to 4x more likely to succeed in quitting with the help of a healthcare professional compared to quitting unaided. 6 Your doctor can talk with you both about your smoking patterns, your general health and help you develop a practical plan to quit.
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- Jackson, S.E, Steptoe, A. and Wardle, J. (2015). The influence of partner’s behavior on health behavior change. JAMA Internal Medicine, 175(3), 385-392.
- Foulstone, A., Kelly, A. and Kifle, T. (2017). Partner influences on smoking cessation: a longitudinal study of couple relationships. pp.1-6.
- Verywellmind. 101 Things to Do Instead of Smoking. Available at https://www.verywellmind.com/things-to-do-instead-of-smoking-2824746. Accessed 24 September 2019.
- Better Health Channel. Smoking – quitting tips. Available at https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/smoking-quitting-tips. Accessed 21 September 2019.
- Smokefree.gov. Managing withdrawal. Available at: https://smokefree.gov/challenges-when-quitting/withdrawal/managing-withdrawal Accessed 24 September 2019.
- West, R. (2012). Stop smoking services; increased chances of quitting. NCSCT Briefing #8. London: National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training.