Helping a Parent Who Smokes

You can't escape the message that smoking is bad for you. But what if one or both of your parents smoke? You might be worried about their health, sick of smelling the smoke, or even a little embarrassed by it.

You can't order your mom or dad to stop smoking, but you can encourage them to quit. There are lots of good reasons for them to. Here are some you can mention:

  • Smoking will hurt their health.
  • Smoking creates secondhand smoke, which you don't like.
  • Smoking will make it hard for them to keep up with you because they might run out of breath easily.

If you think it will help, you could print articles like this one to give to your mom or dad. Also, many states have free programs to help people quit smoking. You might see them advertised on billboards in your town. Point these out to your parents and encourage them to find out more.

But what if your parent gets angry with you for bringing up the topic of smoking? People don't like to be reminded that they are doing something unhealthy, so it's possible your parents will be insulted or angry, especially if they're worried they won't be able to quit. Maybe they have tried before and failed.

Remember to be kind and respectful when you discuss smoking with your mom or dad. Also remember that it is difficult to quit. Some people try several times before they're able to quit for good. Instead of yelling, tell them that you love them and want them to enjoy many healthy years ahead. In time, your mom or dad may realize you are right about smoking.

And if they do agree to stop smoking, be their biggest supporter. Ask if there's anything you can do to help them when they feel the urge to smoke. Maybe you could go for a walk, do a puzzle, or listen to music together. As they reach milestones, such as a month without smoking, be sure to celebrate the achievement. Way to go, mom! Way to go, dad!

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: February 2013