How do you handle being with smokers?

John (Gold)

9:09 PM - Oct 05, 2000#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.

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 : )


9:32 PM - Oct 05, 2000#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).



11:37 PM - Oct 05, 2000#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)

11:56 PM - Oct 05, 2000#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

9:56 AM - Oct 06, 2000#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)

11:23 AM - Oct 06, 2000#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!

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.


11:43 AM - Oct 06, 2000#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.


10:07 AM - Oct 07, 2000#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

12:59 PM - Oct 07, 2000#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)

12:40 PM - Oct 08, 2000#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


4:38 PM - Oct 08, 2000#11

You think that stinks, try sniffing plumbers that smoke, Ack,Ack.


1:48 AM - Oct 10, 2000#12

Great question well I never realized how bad smokers smelled having smoked for 46 years. Iam really embarrassed to think that I put other people through that. When I smell a cigarette the last thing I want to do is smoke. It reminds me of all the coughing, hacking and wheezing I used to do everyday. No thank you I think I will just keep things the way they are and never puff again...Ed

After 46 years proud to be nicotine free for One month, three weeks, two days, 13 hours, 50 minutes and 41 seconds. 1364 cigarettes not smoked, saving $311.77. Life saved: 4 days, 17 hours, 40 minutes.


7:56 AM - Oct 10, 2000#13

Interesting thoughts from everyone. I'm a very new non-smoker (four days) and my boyfriend smokes a pack a day. I'd always used him as an excuse why I couldn't give up. But now I realise that it doesn't really matter what he does; it's MY body I'm responsible for. And if I have a strong enough "want" to be healthy and smoke-free, not even him lighting up and blowing smoke in my face is going to sway me to have one.
I think that "want" is strong enough this time. He smoked in the car on the way to the city the other day and I had to wind my window down all the way - not because it made me want one, but because it made me sick.
Now he's started cutting down too - writing down on his packet how many he's had and trying to "beat" his previous day's tally by lowering the score. I'm so proud of him. But it took me to set the ball rolling. A good example is really worth a thousand hours of nagging!

PS. Girls.... I find what helps me when I'm out drinking (granted, it's only been once!), is seeing all the pretty non-smokers around and thinking you're one of them now. You're much more attractive without a butt hanging from your lips.

Dionne (gold)

6:53 AM - Oct 21, 2000#14

With a still smoking husband I'm getting used to being around tobacco. It does not make me want to smoke as I know I can never have another puff. Once you make that determination, the rest seems easy. Joel and the rest of you have beat me over the head with that statement and I believe it so it's a no- brainer. Let the world smoke around me, I won't be joining in. (I would not want to go through the last 12 days again. It's starting to be real easy and down right pleasant to be a non-smoker) All you new beginners, press on to victory and Zeb's motto,
breathe deep, hug hard, and live long. (I'm not sure I got that right but you get the picture!
Hugs to you all,
" I'll never take another puff Dionne"

One week, five days, 15 hours, 52 minutes and 1 second. 126 cigarettes not smoked, saving $18.99. Life saved: 10 hours, 30 minutes.


6:09 AM - Nov 24, 2000#15

A last minute reminder for those about to partake in Thanksgiving get together's. Zep, I know you brought this up yesterday with a graphic that was pretty large and pushed some of the early posts off so I took it out. Sorry about that but I wanted everyone to get the entire message of this important post. I'm off to dinner. Everone check in later and let us know how it went. Joel

John (Gold)

10:46 AM - Nov 24, 2000#16

Thanks Joel. What strikes me from the responses is how many of our family members are standing up in the face of loved ones who smoke and are simply saying "it's over! I'll never take another puff!" Wow! That's powerful! In my mind, folks who quit while having spouses that smoke, like Nora and Deb, are very strong willed people who can probably achieve any goal to which they put their minds. Next to them, I feel like I cheated

The second thing that strikes me is how quickly we change or view of smokers. I know that we don't like the smell but I pray that we never forget that we were once them. Bolko, what you're doing is awesome!!! You're a teacher, just like most of us! As much as they smell, our brother and sister smokers need our warm hugs! Bolko's quit week fingers are loving hugs reaching out with the promise of a better tomorrow, and I'm sure inside they're loving it. As smokers, we hated being preached to. We knew that we were addicts and the last thing we wanted was someone telling us to do something that we ourselves didn't think possible - quitting!

Bolko isn't telling his co-workers to quit, he's showing them how to quit! Carroll, my bestest old bar buddy, emailed me two days ago and said, "John! Where are you?? The guys are all wondering if you're ok!!!" I have not gone into my old pub (or had a drink for that matter - my new health kick ) since May 15, 2000, the first anniversary of my Quit. I emailed Carroll back and told him that I was just fine and that he could either come by the house or visit me at Freedom via WhyQuit.Com. I'm still hoping a few of the guys drift in here but most are much older than I. I think that some gave up all hope of ever quitting many many years ago. I wish I knew how to reach them. I'm working on it

R b rt

11:43 AM - Nov 24, 2000#17

Hey ZEP ... yes I had a close call today (as in thread CAUGHT OFF GUARD!), but you know - I feel stronger after that ...

It was really close ... you know the ol " - just one!" thinking ...

But I thought about Freedom, I thought about the stuff I have read ... I thought about my quit meter ... I thought about all the friends I have here and - HOW COULD I EVER COME BACK HERE if I smoked!?!
( I would have to go back behind ED and his elephants in the parade!!!) LOL
But truly, I thought about all that ... and as I talked to my niece about you all ... I felt better ... I am going to send her Freedom's link and hope I can dump a watermelon on HER head as she reaches her milestones!


However, I do feel stronger from this experience ... and I "KNOW" I will encounter more in my new smokefree life ... but I am better prepared! I can see what you mean when you say that complacency has no place in a QUIT!!!

Okay --- I am off my soapbox ... goodnight!
- robert -


1:24 PM - Nov 24, 2000#18

When I was a smoker I hated being treated as trash, because I am not! Smoking may be a weakness but I never felt like a second class person just because I smoked. I smoked and enjoyed it, it was my body, my decision. I am 44 years old and in my whole life I seriously decided to quit only once, (other than a stupid effort last year, with a pack of Marlboro in my pocket for emergencies, naturally that quit lasted in 3 days!) , I quit 12 weeks ago and I am still quit. I believe quitting is in one's mind. Just because we quit we cannot expect the world to whirl around us. Yes it would be a perfect world if noone smoked, and yes, if we all keep trying we may help a lot of people quit, but for me, my friendships are too valuable to ruin just because of a cigarette. I have friends who are smokers and non-smokers. They all have a special place in my heart and this will never change just because they smoke. Quitting was my own decision and I cannot hold anyone responsible for my actions. I faced the reality from the first day on, learned to live in this world in peace both with smokers and non-smokers.

I never stopped seeing my friends who smoke. Some of them chose not to smoke beside me, some smoke like chimneys, but I have kept my quit. If we want to succeed, we simply do. If we are looking for excuses to go back, we can find many excuses. I may be sounding too tough but my motto is 'just don't smoke' and I am determined to stick to it.

I am hoping that friends who smoke will quit seeing me stay quit. I was a chainsmoker for 25 years. They all know that of I could do it they can too. Three of them already told me they are thinking of setting a date to quit. If I can have a positive effect on them I will be happy.

I wish you all a happy life with lost of friends Happy Thanksgiving!


4:28 PM - Nov 24, 2000#19

Ahhhh, hubby is a heavy smoker, work has a smoking section, friends that smoke, sisters that smoke. Many many times, for years, I did not make a serious attempt at a quit, becuae it just seemed to impossible. Finally, while I was at the dr with my 17 year old daughter, who had ANOTHER sore throat, I decided to talk to dr. about zyban. Now I still have a lot of trouble seeing people smoke. On days that my husband and I are both home, I spend a lot of time in the smoke free (or as much as possible) computer/sewing room. I have trouble seeing the ash tray and as soon as he goes to bed I empty it and then dump water over it. Today....of all days, I am so thankful that I do NOT smoke....... a one hour drive in a truck with a hubby and 3 cigarettes was a test, and I was prepared, with 4 bottles of ice water, and I passed. At his moms, hubby would go outside for smokes, we had done this the past two years.When he came back in the house, he would walk through the kitchen, down the hall to put coat away, back through hall, into livingroom.....and past me to get to the chair.........I really could have been slapped in the face by an angry grizzly bear and it would have not hit me any harder than the smell when my hubby went by. Dang....and to think that was me for 30 years. NEVER never again! Shelly day 3


9:36 PM - Nov 24, 2000#20


Thankyou so much I really needed to hear your response to this question. So many ex-smokers seem to be discarding friends as if they were cigarettes that could never work for me I value people too highly to discard them. There were many non and ex-smokers who loved and accepted me for years (my husband to name one very important one). I smoked in peoples houses, I smoked in peoples faces and cars and... etc. etc....I'm not going to pretend I didn't and at the time I had no choice I was a slave to my addiction and that was priority number one. I know someone is going to respond that maybe if my loved ones hadn't been so accepting and forgiving I may have quit sooner but I know I wouldn't have. First this addiction is too strong to have been ordered away by anyone and second, that is when I was in the avoiding people mode, friends or family members who I knew were going to hassle me about smoking were the ones I (or should I say my addiction) avoided.
My smoking is my responsibility, my friends are my friends for reasons that have nothing whatsoever with cigarettes. The best I can do for them and myself is take responsibility, love them, understand their trap, and NEVER TAKE ANOTHER PUFF!!!



9:21 PM - Dec 22, 2000#21

Since Linda brought up my posts for the morning I thought I would bring up other peoples. More important, because of the holiday get togethers that many of us will soon be experiencing, getting together with specific people who we may not have seen since first quitting, many new triggers may be abound. So be psyched up everybody. Remember, you don't want to be a smoker no matter how much you may think a cigarette would seem good or just seem right at the moment. That is the key, the thought is of the moment, the result could be a relapse followed by a lifetime of smoking, albiet a shorter lifetime. If you base your decision on the long-term implications and I am sure the decision will be to never take another puff!



4:09 AM - Dec 30, 2000#22

Thank you, that was a badly needed one. Very.


1:08 PM - Dec 30, 2000#23

Thank-you for posting this. I have been thinking about this very issue. And was touched that you feel I could handle anything. Well I try my best. Any way I know that I am strong in my quit. I have no doult that the issue is settled. I'm an addict but have found Freedom and plan on holding onto it with every thing that is with in me. I share this because I don't want you to think I'm in trouble. But I've been dealing with thought. Otherwise known as "stinkin thinkin." or "junkie thinking". Either way it's no fun. Let me explain. It isn't always easy to be around or leaving with some one who smokes when you've quit. The triggers I use to have, have lessened in number and severity. I'm much stronger and ready to go on-line and encourage anyone I can. But what makes me feel bad is the guilt I feel when I have a thought about a killerette. I know the thought caused me to give up on my quit but I feel like I have lost something. Anyway, after the thought I just get busy doing something else and the thought goes away. I guess my question is, is this normal? And if so how long before it goes away? I've read some who so they no longer have any thought about killerettes. To them they are a foreign subject. It's like having a mind of child that has never hear of a cigerette much less what one looked like or what to do with it. Is it really possible to get to this point. Or could my constant surroudings of my husband habit be effecting me to some how to not recievce total Freedom? I also want you to know that I know a thought c an't hurt you but what can is what you do with the thought.
Awaitting your answer.


5:24 PM - Dec 30, 2000#24

I am fortunate or rather unfortunate (not sure), but since day one I have been surrounded by smokers at my work place. Now I don't even think when people smoke around me, sadly it is the norm here in Hong kong I just try to avoid as much second hand smoke as I can.

One thing very inportant although is too see the other side of smoking, this you can do when you are surrounded by smokers, their coughing, their poor health and lack of energy, to see them now still lighting up and knowing that each and every one of them would really like to quit, this just reinforces my determination to stay quit.

Four months, two weeks, four days, 14 hours, 23 minutes and 49 seconds. 2811 cigarettes not smoked, saving $4,217.98. Life saved: 1 week, 2 days, 18 hours, 15 minutes.


9:08 PM - Dec 30, 2000#25

Hello Deb:

I wrote a reply to you under the string "The Urge Hits." I think it addresses your issue. It sounds like you feel guilty that you still get the thought for cigarettes. Don't let that discourage you and don't feel guilty about them either. We our all human, we can't always control our thoughts, what is important is that we control our actions. This is true in all walks of life, but in addiction it has literal life and death ramifications. Anyway, read my post to you and the original article under the string mentioned above.