How do you handle being with smokers?

How do you handle being with smokers?

John (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

05 Oct 2000, 21:09 #1

Being Around Other Smokers
I'd like to use this thread to pose the following the question:

How do you mentally or physically handle being around smokers? A pack bulging from a shirt pocket, a lit cigarette in a hand or burning in an ash tray, an open pack within your reach, an offer of a smoke and it just happens to be your old brand of your hand, or the smell of a lingering smoke that fills your nose and begs you to come home? How do you cope? What do you do?

Each of us will find ourselves surrounded by or experiencing circumstances similar to those above. If we share our experiences and ways that each of us have handled these situations, we each might learn from the other. As we explore this topic be mindful of your distinctions between: (1) "thinking" about the subject of smoking while being around smokers; (2) "wanting" a cigarette while being around smokers, or (3) experiencing a full blown "crave" when being around smokers. Let me start us off:

I intentionally avoided being around smokers when I first quit. I just didn't think I could handle it and because of prior relapses, I just didn't want to take the risk. I'd read about triggers and I knew that being around other smokers was one of the times that I actively smoked. Finally, after a couple of weeks into my quit I grew brave enough to confront my fear.

I'd stayed away from my smoking friends at our after work pub, as the air was always filled with smoke and it seemed to me that the pub was the highest risk relapse environment that could possibly exist. I knew that my longest prior quit was lost with a beer in hand when I broke the golden rule and thought that I was strong enough to take a few little puffs.

When I walked in the door the smoke hit me like a brick wall. It was bad and I immediately thought about my healing lungs and what I was forcing them to endure so that I could be with friends. Standing there at the bar, surrounded by laughing and story telling men, it seemed that EVERYONE except me either a cigarette in hand, at their lips, in an ashtray, or they had an open pack beside them. It was the first time in my life that I'd ever noticed that they were almost ALL smokers.

Ashtrays were everywhere. I knew those who smoked my old brand, Vantage, and I allowed myself to intentionally stand beside them. This was my test. My initial inner strength surprised even me. I grew bold but was still thinking about my lungs. It seemed like I was smoking just by being there and I wanted out. But where was my big crave? It wasn't there. I'd worried about it for so long and it never arrived. Had I worried so much about it that I'd worried it dead? And then it happened ....

I made the mistake of telling a Vantage smoking friend (whom I'd bummed from on many prior occasions) that I'd quit smoking. It was almost like he had a bullhorn in his hand as he announced it to the entire pub as he made it sound like I'd just gotten married or something (but more like divorced). The laughs and smiles seemed to say, "Oh sure, and I'm the Pope." Knowing that I was possibly one of the heaviest smokers in the "after work smoking club," their laughter somehow seemed appropriate.

It didn't take long before the offer of a cigarette was thrust into my face. "Take it," I was told. "No thanks," was the reply. This time it was different. I no longer saw my friends as simply social smokers sharing the aroma of fine tobacco while debating the world's problems. For the first time in my life I saw them as nicotine addicts who had yet to go through withdrawal. I saw them as ignoring what they were doing to their bodies. I wondered why I hadn't SERIOUSLY thought about the health, long before now. Image

This day I had intentionally tested my resolve and victory was mine! It was so so sweet. I looked up at the grey cloud above me being struck by sun-light creeping through the blinds and I decided that my lungs had had enough. About 30 minutes had passed before saying my goodbyes and walking out the door. The fresh air welcome me home, like a mother's loving arms.

From that day forward I've never once stood beside a smoker and WANTED, nor did I any longer fear being around them. After a few more similar encounters I decided that I wouldn't go back. I miss those friends that I no longer see or hear from, but I won't ask these healing lungs, that I punished so long, to again endure such insult. The choice was mine.

Oh I know that I could someday find myself experiencing a high stress period of life with relapse opportunities surrounding me, but in my mind I'm preparing NOW for the day that it WILL happen by being here with you and watching all our newbies seek freedom, while being constantly reminded of what it took to get here. Thanks for feeding my resolve! Yes, I'm using you. Breathe deep, hug hard, live long, Your quit bro, Zep : )

Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:57

05 Oct 2000, 21:32 #2

Good article Zep. I agree whole-heartedly, facing your biggest obstacles makes you realize your ability to face smaller ones. It takes out a major anxiety factor of not smoking. The most important trick is go into these situations being mentally prepared for anything. It will generally turn out much easier and better than you think.

While I always tell people that everything they do as smokers, they can do without smoking, they will often find that there are some things that they no longer choose to do once quitting. Sitting in a smoke filled room is one of them. While it is in their ability to do so, without relapsing I should add, it still can become so uncomfortable, irritating, or in some cases, where somebody has preexisting conditions such as asthma, emphysema or a heart condition, down right dangerous, that no matter what the social factors involved, the ex-smoker realizes it is not worth it.

Sometimes it is not only the smoke which is an annoying factor. Sometimes the environment that you have to be in to smoke is its own challenge. This is seen commonly in the case where the only smoking section is outdoors, and outdoors is currently a subzero climate.

As I said, everything you do as a smoker, you can do as en ex-smoker. But common sense will tell you it is not worth it. While everything you can do as a smoker you can do as an ex-smoker is a true statement, the reverse does not always apply. I could probably come up with a long list of things here that don't work for smokers as they do for ex-smokers, but I am going to leave it at one. Sometimes you can breathe air you so that your heart can pump and you can live another minute as an ex-smoker. Over 400,000 Americans smokers lose that ability everyday.

Thanks for sharing Zep and starting a topic that should be near and dear to everyone's heart. (And lungs, and brain, and a whole bunch of other organs which smoking can slowly destroy).


Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:31

05 Oct 2000, 23:37 #3

Thanks to both of you for your timely articles. I have a function to go to on Sat. night and have dreaded it all week. I can't get out of going but we will be sitting at a table with smokers. I have spent this week telling myself I can do this and get through the evening. Maybe it won't be as bad as I have dreaded! But if it gets too bad, I'll walk outside and take some deep breaths. I CAN DO THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


One week, four days, 9 hours, 37 minutes and 27 seconds. 228 cigarettes not smoked, saving $31.35. Life saved: 19 hours, 0 minutes.

Nora (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:58

05 Oct 2000, 23:56 #4

Thanks Zep for starting this thread. Great article. I was just telling my daughter-in-law last night that it didn't bother me to be around smokers. They will be coming in later this month. I was afraid she would stay at home since I had quit smoking. I have been around smokers several times now and it hasn't bothered me so far. I will be on guard for when she smokes in my house. No one has smoked in it yet since I quit.


fitz p
Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:28

06 Oct 2000, 09:56 #5

i just have to say that my experience around smokers has been a total gross out. I find their actions, the deep sucking down, the squinting, the coughing, the squashing of the butts to repulse me totally. and the smell, UGH!!!! And I stink after being with them for a few minutes!!! I can't believe I ever lived that life. I pray I never relapse, I work at it every moment. I really hate to be around smokers at all, and my dear hubby smokes, as well as both my daughters.


Two months, one day, 22 hours, 10 minutes and 38 seconds. 943 cigarettes not smoked, saving $141.58. Life saved: 3 days, 6 hours, 35 minutes.

GrumpyOMrsS (Gold)
Joined: 19 Dec 2008, 00:00

06 Oct 2000, 11:23 #6

Good question......before I quit smoking, I had trouble being around smokers....and smoking....could not tolerate the smell or the look.

Now that I've quit, I am with Fitz 100%. Everytime I see someone in passing with a cigarette.....I am completely and totaly repulsed by the look and every time a smoker comes near me....the smell of tobacco on them makes be want to choke....literally....the smell throws me into an asmatic attack. Luckily there are only 2 people I know that daughter who will not smoke in front of me or bring cigarettes over when she comes to visit....and my son in law who lives in another city and is a closet smoker. That's it....all other family and NOT husband and I the last to give it up.

I do come into contact with people who smoke because they are customers of mine in the drugstore I work in....I cannot get within 5 feet of them and that is while they are not actively smoking....while I do not hate these people for smoking or look down at them.....I feel sorry for them for not really realizing what they are doing themselves and remember that I too, stood in their shoes........and then I think to myself.....boy, am I glad I quit!Image

Linda.....After smoking for 41 years...I have been smokefree for nine monthS, two dayS, 11 hourS, 17 minuteS and 32 secondS. 5529 cigaretteS not smoked, saving $829.29.

Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:03

06 Oct 2000, 11:43 #7

Thanks Zep and Joe,

I am back at work were every body smokes around me,there wanted me back,and the money is to good to say no.I have been out to dinner lots of times,it was difficult the first two times,but now I don`t even think about it,it is a amazing to me.I can go out have two drinks with dinner and not even think of cigarettes.I do have to say,I have never been a heavy drinker, but I notice not smoking and alkohol don`t mix,I just don`t like drinking alkohol at all now,I can go just as well without it.The job situation is a bit of a problem,I have a very difficult time being around smoke now,it gives me a sore throd and it messes ab my sinuses,And I don`t want to say nothing to anybody ,becorse there gone say I am a bad ex smoker.We have a new girl at work,she is 34 years old,and had one of her lungs removed a year ago,I ask her if she needet help to stop smoking,and she sayed her doctor sayed,that her other lung was fine ,and smoking did not affect this lung.I ask her why she would take a risk like this with only having one lung left over,she sayed smoking is her only pleasure in live,if I hade a live like she had I would anderstand,she has two little children at home.Well I rested my case,becorse I remember saying somethimg very simular bevor.

Thank you very much with helping me to stop smoking,

Roswitha One month, one week, six days, 22 hours, 42 minutes and 53 seconds. 1797 cigarettes not smoked, saving $314.62. Life saved: 6 days, 5 hours, 45 minutes.

Joined: 12 Jan 2009, 22:20

07 Oct 2000, 10:07 #8

i find it hard being around smokers but i try not to think about it but i tell you i can smell smokers a mile away lol

Bolko J
Joined: 07 Jan 2009, 19:17

07 Oct 2000, 12:59 #9

Well, so far I don't have too much experience of having direct contact with smokers yet. Jola quit 13 days before I did, my neighbors are natural born non-smokers, only contact with smokers I have at work, while walking through smoking areas. First few days I was trying to use a detour, but after that I started to express my pride for being a quitter . Every time I'm walking through smoking areas I'm showing on my fingers how many weeks I'm smoke free. I'm stopping often to tell those guys how happy I am as an ex-smoker, how good I feel and so on.. Most of guys are really considering quitting, but ... they acting exactly as I did before I joined Freedom: yeah, it's good to quit, but.. do I have to make a decision right now? etc. I keep saying: the decision is up to you, but if you are seriously considering to quit - go to: . I printed severel posters with Zep's web side address. Last Saturday I gave it to a gas station's attendant who kept a cigarette in his mouth all the time, today I gave it to grocery store clerk on her smoke-break. At October 25th we're going to Detroit to see our Greatgranddaughter for the very first time (she was born at September 14th, 2000) and I'm a little bit anxious to stay withour daughter and our son-in-law for almost 5 days. Of course they're smoking outside, but after they'll come back they'll smell and, of course we will have a few drinks.... I hope, everything will be just fine and I will not relapse. I'm not worrying about Jola, she is very strong.

Geo (Gold)
Joined: 18 Dec 2008, 23:59

08 Oct 2000, 12:40 #10

Great article Zep! My nose helps me to handle being around smokers. I really notice how bad cigarettes stink and that helps me to keep my no smoking promise. I have rewarded myself with great smelling candles and incense. Thanks, Geo