Quitting when you live with smokers

Blog Post created by Dr.Hays on Jun 21, 2017

Do you fear it’s impossible to quit if you share a home with smokers?


It’s a challenge, to be sure. You may be frequently faced with temptation, and you may worry about offending the smokers you live with. As one former smoker put it: “I felt like I was saying, ‘By the way, I’m better than you — I don’t smoke.’”


Yet plenty of people who live with smokers are able to quit for good! Here are steps you can take to boost your odds of succeeding.


  • Negotiate house rules, ideally before you quit.


Don’t leave anything to chance! Let’s say your partner smokes on the deck every morning after breakfast, triggering you to light up in the car. Ask your partner to smoke in a different location, such as the back yard, or at a different time, like while you’re showering or after you leave for work.


If those you live with won’t agree to stop smoking in the house, designate one smoke-free room or, better yet, limit smoking to a single room. Ask them to keep cigarettes and ashtrays out of sight and not to smoke in the car with you.


  • Ask your housemates not to offer you a cigarette or let you bum one.


Of course, the responsibility to avoid cigarettes is yours, not theirs, but you certainly can enlist their help. Instruct them to say: “Sorry, you asked me not to let you bum a smoke and to remind you to pull out your list of reasons for quitting.”


  • Leave the room — or the house.


If you can’t avoid a housemate who’s smoking, don’t make yourself miserable — or vulnerable to relapse. Go elsewhere, and keep your hands, mouth, and/or mind busy. Give yourself a manicure or chew gum while you listen to a podcast.   


During those first few weeks, plan to spend less time at home. Visit the library or make plans with non-smoking friends. Go for a bike ride. Walk around the block.


Once you’re over the hump, you may find that living with a smoker actually strengthens your resolve to stay tobacco free. As one former smoker put it, “Listening to my wife cough every day is a huge motivator for me to never smoke again.”


If you quit while living with smokers, what advice do you have for others?