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How To Get A Man To Quit Smoking

Dec 7, 2007
It's my job to hypnotize people to stop smoking. I also hypnotize people to create outrageous new possibilities in their lives. But helping people rid themselves of a life-threatening, debilitating habit is what makes me jump out of bed in the morning.

So if you'd like to know how to help a man make the decision and take the actions to stop smoking, you're in the right place. But you need to understand some things first:

1. Men Vs. Women Smokers

Many of my smoking cessation clients are women. They awaken one day with this feeling inside and say: I'm going to stop smoking!

Sometimes it's because they want to get pregnant. Or because they worry about the link between smoking and various cancers, heart conditions, or other diseases that affect women. Sometimes it's because they know they smell like smoke, or they're wasting money, or it's getting harder to breathe when they exercise.

Sometimes it's because a cute little girl said, "Mommy, I wanna smoke, just like you."

So they make the decision, and then call me and ask how soon they can come in. If I said, "Five minutes from now," they'd manage to arrive on time, no matter how far away they live. That's how women smokers act when they quit for good. But men? Well...

2. Men Are Different And What That Means

I'm going to be doing some generalizing here, so buckle your seatbelt and know that I'm trying to make important points that apply to many male smokers, if not all. Mea culpa, but I believe it's important.

To a man, smoking means something different than to a woman.

To a woman (alert: I'm generalizing again), it's a way to hang out with her smoking friends; something to do with her hands; an ill-advised method for keeping her weight down (she believes) and a way to create some smoke curls that (she believes) make her look elegant, graceful, and interesting.

To a man, though he won't admit it, it's tied up with his manhood.

It doesn't really matter how, when or why he began smoking, but here are the favorites:

he learned at his father's knee
he tried his first cigarette with a crowd of other boys
he took it up because John Wayne smoked
he wanted to rebel
he wanted to feel okay as a loner
he'll look like he's doing something so the woman he loves will leave him alone
he smokes outside his office building so he can bond with his boss
he started (again) because George Clooney looked so cool smoking in Good Night and Good Luck (substitute any hot male star in any noteworthy film)

Regardless which scenario, it's about masculinity and what that means to him.

3. Ways To Encourage A Man To Stop Smoking

There are four or five solid ways to get a guy to stop smoking. And a hundred ways to make him smoke more in your attempt to get him to stop. If you're a woman who loves a man who smokes, you know many of the hundred. When I retire, I may compile them all. In the meantime, here are some of the ways that have been tried.

4. Worst Ways

nagging him
getting his mother to nag him
showing him articles that say smoking = death
showing him articles that say smoking leads to a long list of horrible diseases
asking his doctor to tell him, especially if he finds out you did
saying he stinks, literally
saying you won't have sex with him if he continues to smoke
saying his cough sounds symptomatic of something horrible
reminding him he swore he would stop
naming friends, relatives and celebrities who are ill or dead due to smoking

These don't work because for most men because every time you make the argument, it will trigger an answer that proves it's not true for him. Remind him that so-and-so died of lung cancer, and he'll remember that so-and-so smoked filterless cigarettes, smoked more often and longer.

Every time you nag, he'll offer himself a counter-example. Every time you demonstrate why he shouldn't smoke, he'll see how his situation is different.

Soon he may tune out your voice entirely when he knows a stop-smoking argument is coming.

5. Best Ways

A. He discovers for himself--physical effects in his own body, or stories about a close friend who is very sick, or news stories, or a very smart doctor who knows how to talk to men directly without being an alarmist. He makes the decision.

B. A child tells him, innocently and disingenuously. Kids say the darnedest things. And spoken with such innocence, it could make a stone cry. Especially if the child is the man's own blood. (Bribery is okay for this good cause; just make sure the kid stays quiet.)

C. He reads an article that hits so close to home, he can't ignore it. He just "happened" to find this article in the house.

D. He hears from his wife or a beloved daughter these words: "I'm having a baby!" A first (grand)child or a late-in-life baby are especially compelling.

E. A combination of any of the above.

6. What To Say When A Man Tells You He Is Stopping Smoking

Be pleasantly surprised, even if you were prepping this for months. Be pleased, and don't offer to help. Let him ask.
Avoid saying "It's about time" or "I told you you'd better." Instead try "That's great." Then stop. If he looks like he is trusting you not to nag, you might quietly add "Can I do anything?" but if you've been a nag, steer clear of even that.

Don't ask about his progress, let him tell you. If he chooses to talk, be supportive and proud of him, as if the idea was all his. Because, truthfully, it was.

Enjoy knowing you got what you wanted. Keep this enjoyment private. 2007 by Wendy Lapidus-Saltz. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Wendy Lapidus-Saltz is a mind coach who uses hypnosis and other techniques to help people break unproductive habits and create productive ones. Based in Chicago, she specializes in smoking-cessation and career fulfillment. For more info, visit http://www.nonsmoker4life.com and http://www.hypno-attraction.com or call 312-640-1584.
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