College students rarely identify as smokers, but what about social smoking? Occasionally, lighting up at bars or parties or in stressed out circumstances may not set off any alarms, but the effects of tobacco and smoking are still prevalent in non-daily or social smokers.

If you have a friend who occasionally smokes, they are still at risk for addiction and health problems, and no one wants to see a friend or family member go from the occasional cigarette to a lifelong addiction.  

Let’s get some facts straight:

  • Social smoking is still habit forming. 1 out of 2 freshmen that smoke occasionally will smoke more frequently as time goes by, and progression from occasional to daily smoking usually occurs by age 26.
  • Every cigarette is doing damage. Smoking just 1 to 4 cigarettes a day almost triples your risk of dying from respiratory problems, heart disease and cancer.
  • Smoking (including social smoking) is affecting your relationships. Check out these statistics found earlier this year:
  • 9 out of 10 people would prefer dating a nonsmoker
  • 57% of people would not date someone who is a smoker
  • 78% said they mind kissing a smoker after they have had a cigarette
  • Taking a smoke break is more unacceptable than checking your cell phone on a date

Additionally, the dating app Hinge found that smokers are rejected 89% of the time.

So… how can you help a friend quit smoking?

The social scene is not so bad if it is filled with the right people, and you don’t have to be a smoker to turn social smoking into social support. Quitting tobacco is challenging for even the occasional smoker, and smokers are 8 to 10 times more likely to quit if they have a strong support network. Check out these tips for helping someone quit tobacco.

Six Tips to Help Someone Quit Tobacco:

1. Ask what they need from you. Quitting is different for every person. Don’t assume you know how to help them.

2. Expand your social network to people who don’t use tobacco. If you know your friend is prone to using around certain crowds, invite them out with you instead or divert their attention away from the crowd.

3. Be supportive and responsive when they have urges.  Remind them they can quit and the urge will pass in a few minutes. Be willing to ditch whatever makes them want to smoke. If your friend is a social smoker, you may have to avoid bars or parties for a few weeks. If you are not with them, be available over the phone.

4. Keep them busy by offering to do different things together. Avoid activities that will make your friend want to use tobacco. Pick relaxing and interactive activities like watching a movie, cooking dinner together or exercising.

5. Celebrate tobacco-free accomplishments. Reward them immediately with simple treats and praise. Getting through a day tobacco-free is just as important as a week or month.

6. Encourage your friend to seek help from health professionals. Tobacco addictions are serious and your friend may need more help than you can offer.

Check out these great and FREE resources offered at USF and in Florida: