DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a problem. I used to be a smoker; then I quit. Now every time my friends come over, they start smoking. Then they always offer me a cigarette, which I refuse. Then they call me a chicken, so I take them because I don't want to be called a chicken. Now I'm back to my same old habit again. It gets so frustrating. I can't go on like this, so could you please help? -- Helpless, Pittsburgh
DEAR HELPLESS: Your habit is actually a proven addiction, and addictions are incredibly difficult to wrestle away. This is why it is typically recommended that when people are attempting to shake an addiction, they become extremely sensitive to people, places and things. Ideally, you should avoid any triggers that may make it easy for you to slip back into unhealthy behavior.
What this means is that, for now, you should limit your time with friends who smoke. Since these friends are unwilling to respect your effort to quit by not smoking around you, your job is to avoid them, at least for now. That they taunt you by calling you "chicken" is simply mean-spirited. You cannot afford to spend time with anyone who is deliberately trying to humiliate you because you are choosing to kick the habit of smoking. For suggestions on how to make a quit plan that can work, visit smokefree.gov/quit-plan.