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Diagnosis: Nonsmoking Buddies

Force in numbers: It's easier to say no as a chorus.

Cigarette habits often begin and end in a group. Sure, it's the individual who snuffs the butt in the end, but having a few friends around helps to extinguish the flame. According to a study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that tracked a social network of 12,000 people over 32 years, smokers tend to quit in clusters. Social influence is so powerful that quitting reduces the chance of your spouse smoking by 67 percent.

Peer pressure is helping to fight chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the fourth leading cause of death in the nation. COPD clogs and inflames the lung's airways, and it's generally caused by cigarette smoking. Heed the anti-smoke signals your recent nonsmoker pals are sending, and everyone in your social network can breathe easy. — Gina Ryder

How to Quit With Friends

Addictions are strong. But relationships are stronger.

  • Fill the void of withdrawal with each other's company. Just be sure to avoid trigger places like bars or clubs. Head to a theater or an art gallery where you can bond—minus the cravings.
  • Group efforts are most effective when everyone strives for a healthier overall lifestyle. Go for a hike. Take a spinning class. Embrace fitness together and sweat away the harmful habits of your past.
  • Create an open social environment. Feel free to vent. Express pent-up frustrations that are likely to cause relapse.
  • Hold each other accountable by checking in once or twice a day.