How can I convince my mum to quit smoking once and for all?
August 31, 2014 3:40 PM   Subscribe

She recently fell off the wagon after quitting for several years. Is this a lost cause?

My mother has always smoked since her early 20s. She quit while pregnant with me then started up again - the worst part was she always smoked inside the house and at the age of 9 I developed asthma, which I am sure is because of her. I moved out more or less as soon as I could.

Throughout the years she has tried to quit through all sorts of methods including hypnosis, but nothing worked. Finally, she quit a few years ago with the help of patches and nicotine gum. She hadn't fallen off the wagon even once. But then her father/my grandfather (who never smoked as it happens!) fell ill with lung cancer and passed away last year. She felt the burden was completely left to her (although I helped as much as I could) as her brother was nowhere near doing as much to care for him in final months of his life. Around this point she felt quite helpless and walked into a shop and asked for a packet of cigarettes.

She says she knows she has to quit again but is clearly still no-committal about it. As an only child I can forsee her getting some horrid form of cancer and me being the one that has to look after her. She must know this and I feel that she is horribly selfish. I think about my grandfather and how horribly emaciated he became and how difficult it was for everyone and feel a severe sense of dislike for the fact that she is choosing to shorten her life in this way. Although I also appreciate that I simply don't understand what it's like to be addicted.

I think the problem is that if she's stressed, she'll smoke or have a glass of wine. Rather than learn to deal with stress in healthier ways. And if that isn't going to change now at 52 - why would she stop?

Is there anything I can do here to get her to stop as I have discussed it with her? Or do I have to resign myself to the fact she may never stop and I will probably have to pick up the pieces later on?
posted by Kat_Dubs to Human Relations (27 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I hate to say this, but as with any addiction: you only quit when you want to quit.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:57 PM on August 31, 2014 [17 favorites]

It's really very hard to quit if you're not deep-down feeling the urge to quit. There's very little (if anything) you can say or do that's going to flip that primal willpower switch. It's extreme, but if you don't have kids you could have one and ask her to quit for that reason and it might work. That's the lengths you'd have to go to in order to successfully manipulate her to quit.

As a former smoker, I am unmoved by the "all smokers die of smoking" certainty of non-smokers and non-smoking propaganda. I could get hit by a bus, die from an aneurism or vascular deformation I've had since birth, get ALS, get a waterborne amoeba up my nose from tap water, choke on a sandwich, be murdered by a wide range of people, slip in the shower, suicide, or be in a fire. My grandparents smoked for 30 years, quit for 30 years, and were felled by cancers and diseases that probably had more to do with their extremely poor childhoods, lack of sunscreen, being old, and WWII than the smoking. In their 80s/90s. They didn't choose to shorten shit (well, my grandmother refused chemo the second time she got breast cancer, she was done and opted out), they just ran down.

I mean, smoking's bad for you, I know. I'm mostly glad I quit because it's expensive and smells bad, but I'm sort of healthier except for my metabolism completely shitting the bed and having to treat my anxiety via other means and not having the absolute joy of smoking, but they say I'm healthier anyway.

She's going to do what she's going to do. You need to decide how much you're going to make it about you. If you only want to take care of her if she gets sick in some ways but not others, do that. All you can really do is express your desire clearly once, support her if she does make efforts that please you, and remove yourself from the situation if you can't accept her as-is.

If she is interested, you can get her that book on Amazon that everyone says made them quit. Or you can take her to that guy in New York who stares at you or something and you never smoke again (celebrities love him) but I don't think either of those options work 100% and I'm sure they don't work if you don't want them to. It is ultimately up to her to feel ready.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:00 PM on August 31, 2014 [10 favorites]

I'm an only child and my mother died of smoking-related illness. She stopped smoking after quadruple heart-bypass surgery. For two years she was healthier than I had ever seen her.

Then her mother died and after the funeral, one of her brothers handed her a cigarette. She was dead two years later. She didn't make it to 63.

Some smokers live to be 100. Some die earlier. Smoking doesn't necessarily kill you but it did kill my mom.

You can't do anything about that but be annoying. I think it's interesting that you wrote this:

"As an only child I can forsee her getting some horrid form of cancer and me being the one that has to look after her."

No you don't. You can go to her and say, I love you very much. I'm worried that smoking will kill you. If you get sick from it, I'm not prepared to take care of you. If you smoke or not is up to you. How I deal with it is up to me."

Or not. Up to you.

Finally, people smoke for lots of reasons, including anxiety, stress, mental illness, boredom, etc. It's nothing personal and it's not about you. Your mom is not being selfish, IMHO. She's being human. Love her anyway, if you can.
posted by Bella Donna at 4:09 PM on August 31, 2014 [12 favorites]

Vaporizers have gotten a lot more popular nowadays; if patches and nicotine gum helped last time, it might be that she can keep her addiction to nicotine but kick the smoking. Nicotine itself has some small adverse health effects, but so does caffeine and people don't seem to feel like it's majorly important to get everybody off of caffeine. You could try setting her up with an e-cigarette and see if she likes it enough to use it over the burning tobacco method of delivery. It's not that e-cigarettes are necessarily good or benign, but they're not as bad as smoking tobacco, and harm reduction might be a more reasonable goal here.
posted by foxfirefey at 4:13 PM on August 31, 2014 [10 favorites]

Does she have any interest in trying e-cigarettes? I've switched over to a pretty basic vape pen (a Kanger Evod), and my tobacco cravings went away almost immediately. I know the jury is still out on the health risks of e-cigs, but it has to be better than putting burning tar in your lungs. I've gotten my breath-capacity back, and I've been able to reduce the amount of nicotine in the juices I buy. And I like that I can still engage in the action of smoking, as that's part of the addiction.

Ideally, no one would smoke, but as it is so, so, so hard to quit, even without the emotional necessity of smoking, ecigs might be the most viable option.

If she is interested, I would suggest she try something like what I use instead of the convenience-store brands, as I found them pretty vile. If you live near a store, you can also try some of the flavors, which I didn't think I would like, but I found I preferred over the plain tobacco taste. I'm currently in love with a coffee/toffee/tobacco mix that curbs my desire to smoke and snack.
posted by bibliowench at 4:15 PM on August 31, 2014 [3 favorites]

Nthing trying to switch her over to e-cigs. Not only are they less harmful to her health and smell better, but also if/when she decides to quit nicotine completely, she can then use progressively lower-nicotine cartridges to wean herself off.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:22 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

You can't run the lives of your parents. Do tell her to keep up the payments on her long term care insurance because shell need help when she's dying. I will point out that she was going to die of something and being the only child, you were always going to factor into her end of life plan. Do you think people live forever if they don't smoke, drink or overeat? Because I have some bad news for you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 4:31 PM on August 31, 2014 [10 favorites]

I also quit with e-cigs, which a year later I still use a few times a week (with a mix of very low and no-nictotine juice). But again, I wanted to do that, and I did a little test run to prove to myself that I could switch to them without feeling deprived.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:32 PM on August 31, 2014

I think the problem is that if she's stressed, she'll smoke or have a glass of wine. Rather than learn to deal with stress in healthier ways.

Like everyone's said, she has to want to quit, but if you are going to try to convince her, you need to deal with the issue of stress. There is nothing scarier than someone trying to take away your method of stress relief and leaving nothing in its place.

Are there things you can suggest that would help reduce her stress level? "Hey mom, let's go for a bike ride in the forest" or "I'll come over and help you garden"? But... you have to do this with no expectation that she'll quit, because you cannot be responsible for someone else's stress level. You are only showing her options.
posted by desjardins at 4:55 PM on August 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

One more vote for e-cigs (or personal vaporizers, as the well-indoctrinated call the non-disposable versions). For less than $10 each, you could pick up a couple of disposable NJoys. If she shows an inclination to use those, take her to visit a local vape shop and get her a nice rechargeable kit. A decent set-up for a novice should cost about $40-70. Most vape shops have a tasting station available so she can try the multitude of nicotine strengths and flavors available, from Virginia Tobacco to Butterscotch.

Then step back and resist the urge to nag. Ultimately, you cannot change her mindset, her habits or her life expectancy for her. Remind yourself that healthy choices do not guarantee a long life -- the world has plenty of old smokers and drinkers, while young people with healthy lifestyles die every day. Draw the boundaries for her behavior around you, for your health's sake, then make the most of the time you have together. She could do everything you think is "right" and "healthy", yet still be taken from you too soon. Don't give yourself any reason to regret the way you treated her.
posted by peakcomm at 5:25 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am 50 and I have an adult daughter and son. What I would say to you, is to stop looking at your mother as a selfish person and as a human being. She lost her father, and that had to have been traumatic for her. Do you ever talk to her as if she were a friend? Or is she this mother figure that has to act a certain way? Could you gather up some empathy for what she has gone through in her life, before you judge her for her smoking habit and how it affects you?

I have interests, I have dreams, I still think I have a life ahead of me at 50. I read books, I garden, I cook, I write, I research things. I have knowledge from 50 years of reading since I was 4 years old. Stories I have heard from my parents about the history of my family. Recipes. How my great-grandmother buried a bean at midnight to cure my father's wart. My grandmother making us homemade donuts. Having to use an outhouse when I was a kid.

I sat and listened carefully to my mom and dad's stories when I was growing up, and as an adult. Even if they bored me (but truthfully, they often did not). I was interested when my Dad told me how to plant a tomato or how to use linseed oil and turpentine to make a wooden planter weather proof. Or how my Mom said to cook the carrots first before making a stew, because they always take too long before the potatoes.

Are you friends with your mother, or do you only see this one side of her and wish she would stop it? I think, as friends, we naturally accept each others foibles, and forgive them, and realize that humans gravitate toward something in place of something else. Perhaps she's lonely? Would you be willing to spend time with her on the phone, listening to her, or encouraging her toward something else? If not, I don't see how you can judge her on smoking alone. Surely, as your mother, she must have more value than just that or how you might have to care for her in her future years.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:35 PM on August 31, 2014 [18 favorites]

I'm in my early 40s. When my mom was pregnant with me, she used to smoke with the ob/gyn. I grew up with her and my dad smoking, though my dad quit when I was a kid. I always hated it, but my mom never stopped, even when I begged her -- until, a couple of years ago, in her early 70s, she was diagnosed with COPD.

I don't think there's anything you can do. Your mom knows it's bad and gross and she knows you want her to stop. That's not enough. Really, I don't think hassling her about it does you or her any good or gives her any information she doesn't have already.
posted by bluedaisy at 5:42 PM on August 31, 2014

If it is reassuring to you, this is how many smokers quit. They quit for a while, then something stressful happens and they start again, and then they quit again and so on and eventually it sticks. This might just be a phase.

My mum smoked all my childhood and quit when I was 12. When my gran died when I was 15, she started again. Then she quit again a couple of years later. Started again when she was depressed; quit again a year after that. Now she hasn't smoked in about 10 years and I think she's finally done.

It's a pattern I've seen a lot. I think you are best waiting until she has recovered from her current stress and is actively wanting to quit again, and then support her however you can.
posted by lollusc at 5:44 PM on August 31, 2014 [4 favorites]

If she's lucky and chooses to do so she might be able to quit. Truthfully though it's really her thing not yours. I say that having lost my mother to lung cancer. She was a lifelong smoker who taught middle school science including health so she certainly knew. My brother and I begged her as kids to quit, my children begged her as well. She died at 73 and was only able to quit when she was diagnosed and lost a lung. It's a hard hard addition to beat and some just don't or can't. I'm sorry - I miss my mom every day and she's been gone for 9 years. I regret that she never saw my kids graduate from high school and college - but it was her choice.

I think all you can do is be supportive. The fact that your mom has quit before might mean she'll do so again when she's less stressed out. No guarantees and as others have said some people who smoke for a lifetime don't get cancer/COPD etc and some who have quit years earlier still get unlucky. The only certitude is that we'll all die of something.
posted by leslies at 6:19 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Your mother is her own person. She is not there just to be your mother. She had a life before you were born, just as you will have a life after she dies. If you feel that she's going to be an inconvenience to you when she gets ill at the end of her life, maybe you should rethink who's being selfish here.

I smoked for years, even after my dad died of lung cancer. Then I quit. After my mom died, I was devastated, and I started smoking again. Then, one day, I said to myself "This is stupid after all the work you did to quit." And I got some nicotine gum, and I stopped again. She may as well.

She's probably deep in grief, and doesn't much care what happens to her at this moment. Losing a parent is ~hard~ if you loved them. I can't believe I'm the first person to suggest this, but.. Grief counseling? If I sound harsh, it's because I lost my mom about a year and a half ago, and I would have done ~anything~ to have extra years with her, no matter what amount of care she needed, whether or not it was "her own fault".
posted by Meep! Eek! at 7:10 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah my Mum has smoked all her life, and I have to admit I'm slightly bitter about it as well. Her father died of lunch cancer connected to his lifelong smoking habit, and my Mum looked after him at the end which was tough, and I thought maybe that would tip her over the edge to quit, but no. Like your Mum, mine has seen hypnotherapists, tried patches all with no success. Both my brother and I have children and even subtle and not so subtle guilt tripping about that hasn't worked. Even my son was born with some severe lung issues (which are all resolved now) and when she visited I told her no smoking and she still smoked and tried to hide it - unsuccessfully.

So ... she just really really loves to smoke. Its never the cigarettes that cause health issues, in herself or in others. When she got dry socket from a took extraction, and I had the temerity to suggest it was from smoking, she went on a tirade of how she had 4 other teeth taken out and smoked and didn't get dry socket from them. Basically total denial of any health issues from smoking.

So ... I just forget about it. I know it'll be me and my wife to look after her if and when she does fall gravely ill, but I also don't always make the best choices in life, sometimes I do selfish things for no good reason, so I figure I'll be the change I want to see in my Mum and when I'm perfect I can lecture her about smoking.

She loves it, and all I can control is how I act. Set boundaries and stick with them but other than that, try to let it go.
posted by Admira at 7:20 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

I quit smoking, and I was able to rationalize a response to every argument I heard. I think the main thing I kept telling myself was that I'd quit "later," so maybe your mom is doing this.

If you believe that your mother can have an open and honest conversation with you where she doesn't get defensive or dig in, you could try offering to go away with her on a short trip to break the habit, since it's a lot easier to do so when you're out of your routine and away from things that trigger the impulse to smoke. If you pose it not as a bribe, but more as an opportunity for you to help her, I think it could work. But she has to be at a certain point where she's willing to put effort into quitting.

Incidentally, the nicotine withdrawal process isn't the worst thing in the entire world, and only really sucks for the first few days, with things not really being a problem at all after a week. At least for me. This, paradoxically, made it tougher for me to quit for good, since I was able to tell myself that picking up smoking again was something I'd be able to stop if I had to, and indeed I did a bunch of times before realizing that I'd still been doing it a lot over a span of a few years, even though I had multiple months-long stretches where I didn't smoke. I had to really accept the reality of the big picture and brace myself ahead of time for the things that would trigger a relapse and come up with strategies to avoid succumbing.

Hopefully this gives you some insight into one person's addict thinking. Good luck.
posted by alphanerd at 7:53 PM on August 31, 2014

I have to nth "if she wants to quit, she will and if she doesn't, she won't." Right now she probably doesn't have terribly high motivation to quit, especially if she's miserable/depressed/stressed.

Also, um, whether or not she quits right now doesn't necessarily prevent her from coming up with lung cancer. I had an uncle who quit decades ago and still died of lung cancer anyway. She may not be able to duck that one if it's going to happen.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:31 PM on August 31, 2014

Resign yourself. You're pushing the equivalent of white-knuckle sobriety: you want her to quit for you, which she might be able to do for a while, but will last until the next stressful period, if it gets that far.

I smoked, and I quit. Before I did I asked a lot of smokers how they quit--to a person, the ones who succeeded and stayed quit, all said that there was a line they crossed, a point they came to, where they were genuinely done with smoking, for whatever reason. I had that point myself. After that, quitting is mainly logistics; before that, quitting is a temporary condition.

It may help to understand something about how your mother views smoking. If she's like me and most other smokers, she doesn't feel like she's shortening her life, or that she's choosing cancer. She likely feels like she's increasing her risks of these things in some distant way, which still matters, but it matters less in the moment than her stress, than her sadness, than whatever excuse she's using to justify it now. This is how addicts self-medicate. It's not about you.

It's actually quite likely that she'll quit again, maybe permanently. It's also possible she'll quit and get cancer anyway, or that one of a hundred other horrible things disconnected from smoking will happen. This isn't in your control.
posted by fatbird at 9:52 PM on August 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

As an old lady with several serious medical issues and on my last legs, really, I find it really annoying when my kids think it's okay to "parent" me. I quit smoking 23 years ago and 7 years later developed COPD which came on fast and hard and knocked me to the ground even though I was fit and energetic and doing a job that required plenty of physical exertion with no problem.

I ended up in the hospital with pneumonia and they couldn't get my oxygen saturations where they belonged and I was discharged on oxygen; I've been on it ever since. Note: 23 years after I quit smoking. I'm now at the "very severe" level. It didn't take long before the word "exertion" took on a whole new meaning and I could do less and less walking, working, talking, etc. - so I got fat. Yep - now I'm "obese" too, though not enough to get my physicians worked up, thankfully.

My kids have alternately tried to get me to exercise more, eat less, take this herb or that supplement, etc, and they, of course, think smoking is the whole reason I'm where I am today. Nope. I also have Parkinson's, and that's why I'm where I am today; oddly enough, nicotine is actually protective against Parkinson's! The neurologist who diagnosed it 20 years ago said my smoking actually kept me moving longer and delayed the symptoms of Parkinson's by a few years, not that that would make a great difference in the grand scheme of things.

Don't parent your Mom - please just don't. You aren't dealing with what she's dealing with - you have your own body, mind and spirit to take care of and that's enough to keep you busy. And when you next think that it's going to be a real bitter hassle for you to take care of her when she's dying of lung cancer and you're stuck with the mess, try - just try - to remember that she took care of you when you were dealing with stuff you brought on yourself, too - that's what people do who love each other.

Addictions are incredibly nasty - all addictions. Dependence on cigarettes is very complicated because they affect the body chemically and the mind psychologically - and chemical changes to the body cause psychological changes to the mind; see? It's complicated. IOW, you can't fix it.

Don't try - and try to talk yourself out of condemning your mother at any level for her smoking addiction - you're not perfect either, and she needs your love, now and later. And you need hers.

Good luck, honey.
posted by aryma at 9:57 PM on August 31, 2014 [8 favorites]

One last ditch effort you might make is to tell her you're scared, and ask her if she is also scared of dying from smoking related illnesses like her father did. Ask her why she continues to smoke when she knows what happened to her father and how much of a burden it placed on her. Don't ask her when she is going to quit; ask her why she is choosing not to yet. Then ask her what you can do to help her feel like she gets her needs met without smoking. Talk to her about her worries, her stresses. Really listen. Then see what you can do from there, and tell her that as scared as she was with her father, you are even more scared, and you need her to do this for you now more than ever. Tell her it's hurting you, and her. Ask her why she is choosing to maintain a habit that is actively hurting you and herself. It's not a fun conversation, but if you haven't put things in those terms yet, it may open up doors for dialogue. Just remember your mom is human. She always has been and always will be.
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:35 PM on August 31, 2014

Nicotine is an awful addiction, partly because it's one that's so easy to feed - it's a lot easier for a nicotine addict to get a fix than for a heroin addict to get one, I imagine. When trying to understand why people smoke, it's important to realise that this is a real addiction and being legal doesn't make it less of an addiction. It's bloody hard to give up, particularly when you're faced with it pretty much wherever you go. I don't have anything scientific to back this up but my view is that, once you're a nicotine addict, you never really kick that addiction, so it is really easy to fall back into it. That's certainly my experience and falling back on that old friend is usually triggered by large stress events in life for me. That doesn't mean your mother will continue to smoke forever or even very long - she's fallen back on a known method for dealing with stress right now, that's all. When the immediate effects of her smoking (she's well aware of these - we all are, no matter how much we deny it out loud) become more important to her than her current stress, she'll be ready to stop. Not before, no matter how much you nag her. Nagging her may even add to her stress, making her less likely to give up. It's a horrible circle to be trapped in, trust me.

Your mother is a smoker - always will be. She's not choosing to shorten her life - you don't know how long her life is going to be and there's no way to determine that she would live longer whether she smoked or not. She's choosing (as much as an addict chooses anything like this) to use a method of dealing with her current stress that works for her, that's all. By all means, tell her that she's making you scared about her future and that you don't want to see her damaging herself, but don't expect that to convince her to stop. She'll stop when she can do so without the stress of stopping being worse in her mind than whatever stress she's dealing with now.
posted by dg at 11:34 PM on August 31, 2014

she is choosing to shorten her life

This framing is not helpful. She is not choosing to smoke the way one chooses what to have for dinner at a restaurant, and she is not choosing smoking over you. She is compelled to smoke, despite knowing full well (because who could ever let a smoker forget?) the harm it is doing to her and everyone around her. I agree with everyone who is telling you can't (and shouldn't) tell her she needs to stop smoking. (And as you've seen, stopping smoking is easy, people do it all the time. It's quitting smoking that's hard.)

I'll just add something to give you some perspective on what you are expecting to accomplish: you can walk in to any every AA/NA/CA/*A meeting and find that many of the people who are clean and sober now -- some for decades -- never manage to quit smoking. If I see a group of people smoking outside a nondescript building, I assume there's a meeting going on. In other words, you have a better chance of asking your mom to stop doing heroin.

And if that isn't going to change now at 52 - why would she stop?

I've been drug-free for 20+ years, cigarette-free for 3. I'll be 50 in March. Just woke up one day decided I didn't want to be a smoker. It could happen to your mom, too.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:01 AM on September 1, 2014

Agree with all the comments above that she will quit when she decides she wants to, and if she's the stubborn type, pressuring her could be counterproductive. That's not to say that you shouldn't enforce boundaries to keep her smoking from bothering you, but that is unlikely to change her behaviour. As someone who lost both parents prematurely to smoking-related illnesses, this fact really pains me.

Deep down, your mom is probably well aware of all the risks she is taking, and ashamed of falling off the wagon. She might feel that she can't beat this, and might as well give in to the "fact" that smoking is a core part of her identity. If that's the case, you can help her remember that she was, in fact, a non-smoker for years, and reassure her that she can be one again. I read somewhere that most smokers quit a average of nine times, and if that's true, your mom still has a lot of chances to get this monkey off her back.
posted by rpfields at 1:51 AM on September 1, 2014

+1 for trying a personal vaporizer if she's up for that. This site is great for info and support, and there are a whole lot of people older than your mom on there who have successfully quit cigarettes this way. It's actually sort of overwhelming with all the many, many sub-forums, but the new member area is a great place to start reading (and participating, of course, if she wants), and she could just hang out there for months before even venturing into the other areas, but there are a lot of spots that are mostly social – specific areas by geography, for example, some with mostly women posters, etc. , and everyone is very supportive and helpful if you are having a hard time quitting, or difficulty with the gear or whatever.

It's also totally fine to join and say "I haven't quit yet, but I'm trying to learn more about this and if it might work for me, and I might want to ask some questions," etc. Very friendly and people are eager to help.
posted by taz at 5:20 AM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

My Mom was much the same, and lived to 87. I'm probably shorter than I should be because she smoked and drank during pregnancy. She had esophageal cancer, came home from the hospital and lit one up. She was on oxygen and smoked. She only really quit when she was too ill with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) to get to the store to buy cigarettes and was in nursing care. COPD gradually reduces your oxygen, and your brain begins to freak out because, hey, not enough oxygen, panic! With serious COPD, my Mom, never a calm or gentle person, could be quite miserable. She died after a cold turned into bronchitis.

Smoking is profoundly addicting. It's hard to quit. It's hard to stay off cigarettes even after you quit. Your Mom probably enjoys smoking, and probably doesn't really want to quit.

Bring her the brochures about quitting. Praise her for every attempt to quit. Encourage her to quit as cheerfully and lovingly as possible. Tell her you want her to quit because you want hr to live. And accept that she may continue to make the horrible, destructive, disgusting choice to keep smoking. Don't let her smoke in your home. Decline to be with her if she smokes. Make the most of the time you have with her, That's all you can do.
posted by theora55 at 11:04 AM on September 1, 2014

There isn't a person left on the planet who doesn't know the health risks of smoking. Your mother knows the health risks of smoking. Badgering her about it isn't going to help her quit.

I have done some work with addicts and former addicts, and not for nothing, I have known several people who kicked heroin but failed over and over to quit smoking. It's a serious addiction. And people calling you terrible and selfish doesn't work as a deterrent. If you haven't struggled with any kind of addiction yourself, maybe it's hard for you to empathise. Still, I recommend cultivating some compassion, it will go a long way to making this easier on you.

And finally, I cannot stress enough that this is NOT ABOUT YOU. Your mother is a thinking, breathing, independent person whose life doesn't revolve around you. I promise she is not sucking on a cigarette thinking "Yeah, so what if I get lung cancer, Kat_Dubs will take care of me."
posted by looli at 8:23 PM on September 1, 2014

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