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Social Life

You're a teenager, and your social life is important to you. But have you ever thought about how it can influence your decisions? 90 percent of adult smokers started smoking in their teens. Does who you hang out with affect your smoking? Learn more about things you can do to still have a life while you're trying to quit smoking.

Friends

You hang out with people you have stuff in common with, right? Well, teens who smoke usually hang out with people who smoke too. So what do you do when you want to quit smoking and your friends don't? Will these relationships change while you're trying to quit smoking? It's important to know that quitting smoking could cause changes (some good and some bad) in some of your relationships and how to be ready for those changes so you can deal with them.

Here are some things to think about:

  • You have plenty in common: You won't lose your friends just because you don't smoke. You and your friends have plenty of other things in common besides smoking. Remind yourself of what they are.
  • Agree to disagree: You have your reasons for cutting back. You need to do what's right for you, but don't judge your friends who aren't ready to take the step to quit. They need to do it on their own time.
  • Who's pressuring you to smoke—you or your friends? Most teens pressure themselves into smoking as a way to be accepted by friends. Most of your friends don't care if you say no.
  • Everyone is NOT doing it: Most people way over estimate the number of people who are current smokers. About 80 percent of teens do NOT smoke! The tobacco companies spend a lot of money to make people think smoking is popular.
Here are some things to do:

  • Change up your routines and patterns: You have routines and patterns for how you interact with and relate to other people. And you probably have patterns for smoking. Think about it. Chances are good that you smoke with the same people, at the same time, in the same place, and while you're doing the same thing (like sharing cigarettes after school or smoking in the car with your sister). You may not realize these patterns at first, but you'll need to identify them so you can begin to make changes. Mix up your routine by suggesting non-smoking activities or seeking out the company of friends who don't smoke.
  • Avoid certain social situations: At first, it may be best to avoid social situations that trigger you to smoke. If your plan to quit involves some major changes, try explaining to your friends (and family) that you're not avoiding them, but you are avoiding situations that might make you want to smoke.
  • Ask for help: Asking for help doesn't have to be hard. It's important to tell the people you're close to about your plan to quit. Let them know how they can help you! It can strengthen your relationships.


Relationships

Do you remember your first time—with cigarettes, that is? Was it love at first puff? Or did you have a one night smoke and then call it quits? How about now? Still flirting? Maybe you hook up every once in awhile after school or at parties on the weekends. Or maybe you and cigarettes have started seeing a lot of each other. Could you be dating? Do you officially have a cig-nificant other? Breaking up is hard to do (especially with your cigarettes), but it might be the right thing for you.

Not sure what your relationship status is?

One night smoke

You hit it and quit it. You tried it out, realized you didn’t like smoking so you moved on.

What this means: You dodged a bullet. Many teens who experiment with smoking go on to become lifelong smokers—and suffer the serious health consequences. Nowadays, you are all about healthy relationships, so you won’t be tempted to flirt with smoking again.

Flings

You and cigarettes occasionally hook up at certain places or in certain situations, like parties or at a friend’s house. You’re experimenting with different brands and just having fun playing the field.

What this means: Flings can be fun, but someone usually wants to get serious after a while. Even if you only hook up once in awhile, you can get hooked—on nicotine. You may not be looking for a long-term relationship, but you should know that every time you hook up with cigarettes, you’re falling farther and farther in “love.”

Friends with Benefits

You hook up with cigarettes when you’re feeling stressed out. It’s no strings attached, just stress relief.

What this means: Friends with benefits might seem like a good idea, but let’s face it—somebody always gets hurt. Smoking may make you feel better temporarily, but there is no such thing as a safe cigarette. This friend with “benefits” will leave you totally damaged.

Bromance

Cigarettes are like your wing man or wing woman. You always bring them with you wherever you go to help break the ice in new or awkward situations to get the party started.

What this means: Think your bro has your back? Think again. Relying on cigarettes to make you look good can backfire. Smokers are often seen as less attractive and more nervous than non-smokers. Awkward!

Dating

You and cigarettes get together pretty regularly. You hang out every day before and after school and on the weekends. At this point in the game, you’re only with one brand of cigarettes and seeing where things go.

What this means: Now that you and your cigarettes are spending more time together, you may start to notice some “red flags”—things that spell trouble for happily ever after. The stank that clings to your clothes and fingers after every date. The zits that won’t go away. The unfortunate breath. It can be tempting to ignore these warning signs, but if you are honest with yourself you will know it’s time to move on—this is not “The One.”

Facebook Official

It’s official, you’re in a committed relationship. You’ve been smoking regularly now for more than a year and you hang out pretty much 24/7. You and your cig-nificant other are going strong, and you don’t have any plans to quit this relationship any time soon.

What this means: You are caught in a bad romance. You know the ugly, and you know the disease—but you’ve made a choice to stick by your cigarettes. Or maybe you are just staying because it’s easier than breaking up. Whatever your reasons, remember that you do have a choice in the matter. Just because you are Facebook official doesn’t mean that you can’t change your mind.

No matter what your relationship status is, it's important to decide if this is what you really want. Are you in it for the long haul? You should know that the longer you stay in this relationship, the harder it will be to bail.

Before things go any further, ask yourself the following questions about your relationship:

Are you falling harder than you think?

You aren’t looking for a serious relationship, and you can take or leave cigarettes. At least that’s what you tell yourself. But lately, you spend a lot of time thinking about cigarettes—when you will see them next, how you can get them, and the things you two might do together. You are hooking up more and more often, and you find yourself missing them when they aren’t around. The truth is, you need cigarettes more than you care to admit. You don’t have to smoke every day, or even every week, to get hooked on nicotine. Think about it—there’s a reason you keep coming back for more.

Is your relationship high maintenance?

Do your cigarettes dictate where you go, what you do, and who you do it with? Your parents hate cigarettes, so forget about smoking at home. Cigarettes aren’t allowed on school property, so you can only see each other in the parking lot after class. You can’t take them to the movies, out to eat, or anywhere else normal couples go. Even worse, you have to worry about washing your hands; covering up their smell; burning other people, your car, or your clothes; and being in love with a liar.

Not only is it hard to find time for the two of you to be together, but your dates aren’t exactly cheap either! Cigarettes need lighters, matches, etc. to light the fire between the two of you. Not only that, but cigarettes usually travel in packs. Smoking a pack a day can cost you about $3,000 a year!

It can be exhausting and expensive trying to keep up with the demands your partner requires! Is this relationship really worth it?

Are you in a toxic relationship?

We all have that friend who’s in a relationship with someone they know isn’t good for them. No matter how much that person hurts them, they give it one more chance, and another, and another. Every time they get burned, they swear it’s the last time and that they’re not going back. But, they always do. You’ve seen your friends do this a hundred times, and you swore to yourself that you would never do that!

Or would you? How many chances are you willing to give cigarettes? 5? 10? 100? Every time you smoke, cigarettes are causing permanent damage to your body. Besides putting toxic chemicals into your body, cigarettes can stunt the development of your vital organs. Teens who smoke have smaller, weaker lungs than teens who don’t, and may never reach their maximum lung capacity as adults. Teens who smoke also show signs of heart stress, including physical changes to the heart muscle itself, and a higher resting heart rate. These are warning signs that the heart is working extra hard. Maybe you’ve noticed other negative consequences from smoking too. You can’t taste things when you go out to eat, you’re constantly breaking out, you’re always sick, your fingers and teeth are turning yellow, and you can’t really see in the dark as well. But, you keep smoking. Um, isn’t that kinda the same thing your friend does? Just saying...

Does your wingman really have your back?

Don’t know what to say to the hottie you’ve been eyeing at the party? “No problem,” you think to yourself, “I’ll break the ice by asking her to bum a lighter.” Want some one-on-one time with her? You just ask her to join you outside for a smoke. Your wingman’s always there to help you out with the ladies, right? Wrong.

What your wingman might not know is that about 80 percent of teens don’t smoke. So breaking the ice by asking for a lighter might be a little harder than you think. Your wingman also might not know that smokers are often seen as less attractive and more nervous than non-smokers.

Are you staying in this relationship because it’s comfortable?

At this point in your relationship, you might be smoking with the same people, at the same time, in the same place, and while you’re doing the same thing. Perhaps you’ve thought about breaking up once or twice, but you’re afraid that if you do, all of your friends will hang out with your “ex” and not you. Or you’ll have to find new places to hang out because of your “ex.”

Have you ever considered that you might be missing out on meeting new people or experiencing new places and things because of your relationship? Have you ever thought that smoking might be holding you back from doing the things you really want to do? You’ll never know unless you try! Letting go of the familiar can be scary, but you are young and have your whole life ahead of you. Do you really want to settle? Just cause you started dating doesn’t mean you have to keep going —you made a choice, and you could make a different choice.

Do you know a deal breaker when you see one? Sometimes relationships, no matter how much you want to make them work or how long you’ve been together, just aren’t good for you. It might be time to think about calling it quits. Breaking up is hard to do, but in these situations, it might be the right thing for you.

How to Break Up with Cigarettes

When you’re ready to call it quits, START by doing the following:

  • Pick a day to break up.
  • Write a break up letter. It might sound dumb, but Colin Farrell wrote a break up letter to his cigarettes when he quit smoking. It’s a great way to address all the reasons why your relationship isn’t working anymore and help you move on.
  • Figure out how you want to break up. There are many different options so check out the following to see which is right for you:
  • Breaking up via text message
  • Breaking up over the phone
  • Breaking up online
  • Avoid places and situations where you and your cigarettes used to hang out. Going to these places will only remind you of your time together and may make you miss them.
  • Get rid of all of the things that remind you of your “ex.” Matches, lighters, ashtrays, pictures of the two of you—everything!

Need Break Up Survival Skills?

Feeling down or stressed out about your break up? Tempted to hook back up with your “ex”? Don’t do it! Whatever reasons you had for breaking up will still be there, and you’ll only feel worse about your decision to hook up afterward.



Parties

You're at a party. It's ok, but there's a part of you that isn't really sure about being there. Maybe you're bored. You feel like a cigarette would be good right about now. Sound familiar?

What's going on at the party that might make you want a cigarette? It could be lots of things. Consider this: Cigarettes have been advertised as:

  • A way to participate in group activities, like parties
  • A way to make new friends
  • A way to relieve stress
  • A way to have fun
  • A way to be cool and popular

Whether you're the life of the party or you're shy, cigarettes promise to make the whole night better, right? Movies tell you this. TV tells you this. Your favorite bands probably tell you this. But do you really need cigarettes to do these things?

Because you know you don't need cigarettes to do any of these things, try leaving them behind this weekend. The truth? Less than one in five teens smoke, so staying at the party—instead of leaving to smoke—could help you make new friends. Those who leave the party to smoke are missing out and are often seen as less attractive and more nervous. Is that really what you want people saying about you Monday morning at school?

 

 

Support

Get by with a little help from your friends. Life is full of ups and downs. Don't ride it out alone. Research shows that people who have close friends and family they can count on are happier and healthier. So, call on yours during the good times and the bad times. Isn't that what true friends and family are for?

Follow these 12 tips to get the support you need:

1. Surround yourself with people you trust

Think of the people you trust the most—people you can talk to about anything and who have been there for you when you needed them. Friends, parents, grandparents, teachers...whoever they are, spend more time with them.

Tip: Turn your everyday events into +1 activities. Grab lunch with a friend, hang out at the mall, or meet up for your school’s basketball game.


2. Go with your gut

People change. Sometimes that means friends grow apart. Go with your gut if a friendship doesn’t feel right anymore. Letting go can be hard, but you can’t fly if you let people weigh you down.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to try a little distance with people who aren’t giving you the support you need. Focus your energy on spending time with people who make you feel good about yourself and want you to succeed.


3. Make time

Good friendships don’t happen overnight. Make a point to invest time in yours. When people know your friendship is more than just a convenience for you, they’ll be more willing to help you out. You’ll feel more comfortable calling on them for support, too.

Tip: Go to that movie your friend really wants to see, even if it’s not your top pick. Or go out of your way to walk a friend home after school, just so you can keep talking.


4. Ask for help

You might like to solve problems on your own, but the truth is we all need a little help from time to time. Go ahead and ask the people you trust. Seriously. It doesn’t mean you’re weak. Your true friends will be there, ready and willing to help.

Tip: Not sure how to ask? Send a text or IM to get the conversation started (like, I want to quit smoking. Can you help me?). Know an ex-smoker? Ask them why and how they quit.


5. Leave mind reading to the psychics

Unless your friends can read minds, it’s safe to say they don’t always know what you’re thinking. Be specific about what support you want (and don’t want). But be nice about it. Giving lectures is a job best left to your teachers.

Tip: Feeling stressed after a breakup and craving a cigarette? Tell a friend and ask them to help plan a smokefree night out to distract you.


6. Say thanks

Don’t let acts of kindness go unnoticed. Tell your friends you appreciate them, whether you speak it, text it, or show it with your actions. Saying thanks doesn’t take a lot of time, so do it in the moment before you forget.

Tip: Have a friend who gave up their last piece of gum to help you beat a cigarette craving? Buy some gum and give it to them with a note that says “Thanks for helping me stay quit!” Or tag them on Facebook so everyone knows how awesome they are.


7. Ditch the drama

Some people never have anything good to say and bring drama. Don’t turn your life into a reality TV show. Steer clear of the things that add unneeded stress to your day and look for more positive things to do.

Tip: Pass on the trash talking and cigarette break after school. Stay above the fray by grabbing a friend and your sneakers and going for a walk instead.


8. Grow your social circle

Give your social circle a boost by connecting with other people who share your interests. Start by thinking about the things you like to do. Then look for ways to get more involved in them. Get talking with the people around you, and chances are, you’ll find you have stuff in common.

Tip: Strike up a conversation with that kid who sits next to you in math class, join an after-school program, volunteer, or connect with the SfT Network.


9. Be approachable

How you present yourself to others is a big part of branching out and strengthening friendships. Make yourself approachable by making eye contact when talking with others. Smile. Sit and stand straight. Give compliments. People will be drawn to your confidence and positive attitude.

Tip: Say hi and smile to classmates when you pass them in the halls, compliment a random person on how great their shirt looks, or tell your friend you like their new haircut.


10. Set the stage

Don't wait around for others to come to you. Create opportunities to spend time with friends by suggesting things to do. Join in conversations and give your opinion (even if it’s different from the rest). You don’t have to be the center of attention to get noticed.

Tip: Approaching others might seem scary at first, so start small. Ask a classmate if you can sit with them at lunch or invite a friend over to play video games.


11. Listen

It's not always about you. Listening is a great way to strengthen and build friendships. Get people to open up by asking questions that can’t be answered in just one word, like yes or no. Then be quiet and let them talk. Resist the urge to butt in with your own comments and stories.

Tip: Are your friend’s eyes glazing over when you talk? Take a breath and give them a chance to say something. Ask what they think of a new song you heard or how they’re feeling about semester exams.


12. Return the favor

Support is a two-way street. If you want others to be there for you, you have to be there for them, too. Check in with your friends and help them out when you can. Sometimes small favors mean the most.

Tip: Decorate a friend’s locker to say good luck before a big game, send a tweet to recognize someone special, or make a friend smile by texting a random joke.




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Quitting smoking is tough, and becoming pregnant doesn't suddenly make it easier. Learn how to support any moms-to-be in your life who are trying to quit.

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