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How Can I Help My Teen Quit Smoking for Good?

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My 18-year-old son quit smoking for a few weeks, but now he says he wants to go back to it. He says he's been under a lot of stress, having mood swings, and is a lot more fidgety. How can I convince him to change his mind?
Audrey

It's hard to quit smoking. And it’s even tougher to quit abruptly (go "cold turkey"). Nicotine is addicting — and your son may be showing signs of withdrawal. Some people need to stop smoking over time and use nicotine replacement products such as nicotine gum or the nicotine patch to avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Nicotine even comes in lozenge, nasal spray, and inhaler forms, so he can try different types. He will need to speak to his doctor about the spray and inhaler, as these need a prescription.

A few weeks after someone quits smoking, they should notice that the physical symptoms ease. But smoking also creates emotional dependence, which needs to be considered too. Tools your son can use to deal with the emotional effects of quitting can include counseling, support groups, self-help materials, and even mobile phone apps. He also can find more information and support online at:

It's great that your son has wanted to quit — that's the most important step in the process. Keep encouraging him, but know that the decision to quit is his. Even if he smokes again, stay supportive. Congratulate him for his original desire to quit, help him remember why he wanted to kick the habit, and know that it can take many attempts before he succeeds in quitting for good.

Date reviewed: March 2022