Quit Smoking For Me!

Dear Vered,

How do I get my awesome boyfriend to quit smoking? I don’t need to tell him it’s disgusting, he hates that he smokes, yet the smoking cessation kit he ordered sits unopened on the kitchen counter. So far, I’ve gotten him to quit smoking indoors (even in his own house, woo!) and chew some minty gum before kissing me. But that’s all. I’ve tried the solidarity approach and quit my diet soda addiction very publicly. He was very proud of me, but did not join. After that, I tried to scare him and showed him photos of blackened smokers’ lungs via the Body Worlds exhibit. He was grossed out, but still got his Marlboros later that night.  I’m pretty close to faking an asthma attack or a sudden bout of “secondhand smoke-induced low-libido syndrome.” But that’ll be punishing me, too. Help!

Smoking in the Suburbs

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Dear Reader,

You can’t “get” your boyfriend to do anything. That’s not the way it works. Your boyfriend is both physically and psychologically addicted to nicotine, and your preferences have nothing to do with it. People only quit smoking when they are good and ready, not before. He’s sent you some clear signals that he’s not ready, so pushing it is not going to help. If he’s the stubborn type, it’s going to make him dig his heels in more.

It’s a bit disingenuous to loudly proclaim that you’ve quit your diet soda addiction as if it were analogous to his nicotine addiction. It is not. Research has shown that quitting nicotine is one of the hardest, if not the hardest, drug to kick. The Henningfield ratings and Benowitz ratings rank addictive substances based on several categories, so see for yourself:

 HENNINGFIELD RATINGS

Henningfield table 

BENOWITZ RATINGS

 bennowitz table

To read this ratings chart, these six substances are ranked 1-6 in order of seriousness. (1 = most serious, 6 = least serious.) For more information about these studies and their methodologies, see http://www.tfy.drugsense.org/tfy/addictvn.htm.

So here’s my advice to you: stop trying to make him feel bad about smoking, because he’s said that he already “hates” it, and if he really does, he’s already struggling with the cognitive dissonance of that. Stop trying to do things in solidarity with him, because comparing caffeine addiction to nicotine addiction is insulting at best. Stop trying to scare him because if he’s an American born after 1964 he already knows what’s happening to his lungs and has grown up with that knowledge. It’s not news.

He’ll quit when he’s ready. If you can’t wait, it’s time to find a new boyfriend.

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