5 ways to avoid secondhand smoke (without losing a friend)


We all have those friends who smoke. Whether it’s after a meal, during the work day or in the middle of a night out, some of our friends still choose to smoke. No matter how much you love this person, spending a lot of time around him or her will seriously impact your health.


The facts (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):

Secondhand smoke is a mixture of gases and fine particles either created by any burning tobacco product or exhaled by a smoker. This toxic gas contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including about 70 carcinogens.

Most exposure happens at work or in the home. Even if you separate smokers from nonsmokers, clean the air, open the windows and ventilate the building, nonsmokers are still at risk for developing problems from secondhand smoke.


What to do?

So, you’re a nonsmoker ““ and you want to avoid the potentially deadly side effects, without ruining your friendship. Here are a few tips to skip the smoke and keep your friends:

  1. Understand that smoking is an addiction
    While many smokers wish to stop, they haven’t been successful, yet. A supportive approach is most helpful. If smoking occurs in your presence, remove yourself from the exposure.
  1. Ask your friend to avoid smoking around you
    It may be an awkward conversation at first, but it’s important to help your friend understand that while you love spending time together, you can’t be around him when he smokes. Be caring and understanding, but be firm.
  1. Request smokers avoid smoking in your home
    Again, a potentially awkward conversation, but important. You can provide outdoor ashtrays as a courtesy if smoking in your yard is okay.
  1. Avoid asking your friend to quit smoking
    We know you want the best for your friend, but handing her a stack of “How to quit smoking” pamphlets won’t help. She needs to make the decision to stop smoking for her. You can tell her you’ll be there for her if she decides to quit, but don’t make her choose between the cigarettes and your friendship.
  1. Say “thank you”
    It’s a difficult conversation for you, but it’s just as difficult for your friend. Let him know you appreciate that he took the time to hear you out.