November 16, 2016

The Great American Smokeout: It’s Not Just for Tobacco Users

By Steffie Duginske

Whether you’re a tobacco user or not, the Great American Smokeout on Nov. 17, can touch all of us and can be a powerful day if we’re open to the potential it can bring. Generally, this date marks a time for tobacco users to set a quit date, make a plan and begin taking action toward kicking this awful addiction that affects nearly 40 million Americans.

shutterstock-smoking-quitQuitting smoking has immediate and long-term benefits at any age. It is challenging, but getting help through counseling and medications can double or triple the chances of successfully quitting.

My hope is not only to empower tobacco users, but also to encourage those who don’t use, with the tools to provide proper support and encouragement for someone – a family member, friend, neighbor, acquaintance – who uses tobacco. Your effort to support those around you with a tobacco addiction is vital to their success.

It’s important to have the conversation effectively, and these do’s and don’ts can help:


  • Find the right moment
  • Offer to be there – ask whether they want you to check in with them regularly
  • Keep it positive
  • Help them find their motivation
  • Spend time doing things with the quitter to keep their mind off smoking
  • Plan to celebrate successes together
  • Create a smoke-free environment
  • Leave messages of support on their phone or email, or send a handwritten note
  • Encourage them to seek expert help
  • Help them remember to take their medication


  • Offer advice (just ask how you can help and respect that the quitter is in charge)
  • Take the quitter’s grumpiness personally during their nicotine withdrawal
  • Judge, nag, preach, tease or scold
  • Tell them quitting “cold turkey” is the only way
  • Drink coffee or alcohol when you’re together, as these can be triggers
  • Give up

Take that first step. It’s never too late to choose a different path, a healthier path, that will change your life forever.

For tobacco cessation support, you can reach Mission Health’s Nicotine Dependence Program at (828) 213-5527 or, to make an appointment with a nicotine dependence counselor, (828) 213-2222. You can reach The North Carolina Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or at 1-855-DÉJELO-YA (1-855-335-3569) for Spanish speakers.  You can also text SmokefreeTXT, a service of

Steffie Duginske is a Certified Health Coach at Mission Health’s MyHealthyLife program.