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How to say "no thanks"
(without a big production)

If you don’t want to do something (drink, vape, drugs, go somewhere, be alone with someone, whatever) your choice should be respected. But different circumstances may call for different approaches. Here are some tactful ways to decline. Be sure to match your body language to your words and project confidence in your decision. Select an approach that matches your personality and the circumstances. Practice a few things to say, so you are ready for whatever comes up.


Be firm, but casual.

Just say, “No thanks”. You really don’t owe anyone an explanation. This is typically all it takes.

Be honest.

“It’s not my thing.” or "I don't feel like it".

“I’m driving.”
“I’m not going to risk my spot on the team.” or “I have _____ tomorrow, so I can’t.”

Change the subject/suggest something else.

"No thanks. Actually, let's get some food. I'm starving."
“No, but I could use some water.”
"No thanks. Hey, how did you like that movie?"

Make an excuse.

“I don’t feel good, I think it’s something I ate.” or “I’m really tired.”
“I don’t like how it makes me feel.”
“I have practice tomorrow.” or "My parents drug test me".


Leave the conversation, the room, or the location. Don’t reply to a text. Don’t acknowledge the offer.

Turn it around.

“People are taking pics. I hope you don’t get busted.”
“A friend would respect my choices.” or "If you cared about me at all you would let it go."

Use humor.

"If I smoke, I'll smell as bad as you."
"I'm fun already. I don't need that."

Pull in help.

"Hey guys, help me out. I told him 'no,' but he won't leave me alone."
Text your parents a code word and have them call you insisting that you have to come home immediately because you didn’t do your chores/left food in your room, etc.

Be a friend.

Be ready to help others who look uncomfortable by changing the subject or pulling them away from a group with, “Hey, I have to tell you something!”. Trust your instincts. And remember, MOST teens do not use drugs or alcohol, if you would rather not, you are in the majority, though it may not feel like it in a moment when you are surrounded by the minority.

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