Boundaries & Support: Living With Another Smoker

Blog Post created by dr_hays on Oct 26, 2015



If stopping smoking was just a matter of putting the cigarette down, millions of people would quit each year.  However, we know that smoking is a chronic disease that affects different areas of our lives such as our habits, routines, and even close personal relationships. 


Just as one would plan changes to their routines and develop healthier coping skills when quitting, it may be necessary to form new personal boundaries with others.  This may be particularly important if a person lives with another smoker.  Though smoking may be an individual activity, the process of quitting is often strengthened by support from others.  So how does one balance these personal relationships with their newfound freedom from smoking? 


Here are a few suggestions to consider whether you are still contemplating a quit attempt or have already started your smoke-free journey:


1. Have a conversation with those you live with who are still smoking.  Ask them to support you in your effort to quit by:

 A.  Limiting their smoking to outdoors, or at least to a particular room of the home. 

 B.  Listening openly about your smoking triggers and how they can help you avoid them when possible.

2.  If you use stop-smoking medications, consider bringing them with you when around other tobacco users.  Even if you don’t use them each time, they can add another layer of protection to your smoke-free commitment.

3.  Stay back with the non-smokers when others go out to smoke.  You may just strike up a great new, smoke-free friendship!

4. Remember that the average craving lasts only 3-5 minutes whether you smoke or not.  Consider brief activities that can take your mind off smoking, maybe even inviting your support people to join you.


Keep in mind that getting support from those you live with is a two-way street - they may not always know how to best support you.  Communicating honestly with one another on a regular basis can go a long way in making sure both of your needs are met and you continue your journey toward a smoke-free life.


References:  Mayo Clinic: Stopping Tobacco Use: A Support Person’s Guide