Open letter to non-smoking family and friends

If you are a smoker, this sample letter can help you express to your friends and family what quitting smoking means to you, and help them understand how they can best support and help you in the process.

Sample letter


I will try to make my life better. I want to quit smoking. I just want to write you this letter to let you know what will happen next month or so, because the process of abstaining from nicotine is very challenging for me and the people around me.

(Most people don’t realize it, but nicotine addiction is actually one of the most difficult drugs to quit, even harder to quit than heroin, because it is usually deeply ingrained in our lives).

Everyone responds differently to withdrawal symptoms, but in general, in the first two weeks (Hell Week and Hell Week), don’t expect too much from me. I probably won’t be my normal self. All my attention will be focused on fighting the physical and mental impulses of smoking.

I may cry, I may yell, I may ignore you. The worst part is that I might say something hurtful to you, but I want you to know that this is talking about nicotine, not my heart. I will apologize afterwards, once the poison gas leaves my body, my mind has been cleared, but at this moment, please remember that I love you and let it roll off your back.

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You need to know that when a smoker quits, the body and mind will try almost any method to induce the user to take another puff. I can rationalize “now is not a good time”. I may question the value of my existence. I might say that I feel empty and lost. There may be pain in my body. I may not be able to sleep. I may act as if the pain I have experienced is your fault.

Please note that I did this for myself, not for you. In this important aspect, I must be selfish so that I cannot give nicotine a reason to shift the blame to others.

Therefore, you should not be responsible for my discomfort and frustration. Even if you feel that you can’t bear to look at me like this, no matter what you do, don’t tell me that smoking is okay, just to relieve the pain. When I am weak, you must be strong, so don’t agree with any “junky thinking” I might come up with.

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Here are 10 things you can do to help:

  • Avoid the topic of cigarettes (because I try to make them disappear from my mind) unless I bring them up first.
  • Be there when I need a hug, but don’t get hurt when I push you away.
  • Consciously avoid getting me into a tense situation… If the tension can be postponed for a few weeks, please try to do so. If not, please try to buffer me.
  • Consciously avoid putting me in the presence of a smoker. This may mean avoiding favorite restaurants or bars, or hanging out with certain friends for a while.
  • Try to act as if everything is normal.​​​ The more “normal” your behavior, the sooner I will get there.
  • When I start to rationalize, don’t try to argue with me… Silence is a stronger message.
  • Help me avoid “trigger” situations…places or activities I usually light up. (For example, if I often smoke in the car, please do not plan a long trip in the next few weeks).
  • If I tell you to leave me alone, give me space, but don’t go too far…whatever the nicotine says, I need to know that you are nearby.
  • Keep telling me that I will get better, the emptiness and pain will subside, you love me, this kind of effort is worth it.
  • Tell me I am strong. Tell me you are proud of me. But please tell me, no matter what I say or do, you will be there.

I just want you to be prepared, because the first few weeks are usually the worst, but please note that it will not suddenly get better…it will be a gradual process.

Also, please note that when I quit smoking for me, you and the people around me will also benefit. I will be free from the need to know where the nearest cigarette shop is. I will be free of odors and stains. I will not die prematurely. I will be free to spend more quality time with the people I love.

Thank you in advance for being strong enough to love me and help me through difficult times.

Love, _______