A House Divided: When you’ve quit, but they’re still smoking

by QuitNet team member Corrie Mook

When you decide to quit smoking, it’s helpful to make a plan. When should I set my quit date? How will I conquer the cravings? Will I use NRT, or go cold turkey? One additional challenge that many people must overcome is how to quit smoking in a household where others smoke. Thankfully, we’ve seen on QuitNet that many people have still found success, despite cigarettes still being nearby. Many QuitNet members (and our online coaches, Vikki C. and Bette A.!) have shared their advice over the years, and here are some of our favorites.

Just because the cigarettes are there doesn’t mean we have to smoke them.

Laura S.: One thing we have to remember is that just because the cigarettes are there doesn't mean we have to smoke them. After all, there are cigs at every gas station everyone goes to, there are cigs at most grocery stores; they're everywhere, but that doesn't mean they need to be in MY hands. Same concept with my husband’s packs: they're everywhere, but there is no rule that says I have to pick one up. Don't romance [your partner’s] smoking. He doesn't "get to" smoke, he's addicted to and he "has to" smoke. You don't. It's not always easy, but it is super simple. . . just don't smoke. You can do this! :)

Donna O.: You have to do it for yourself, nobody else. I quit and my husband still smoked, but once he saw I could keep my quit, he quit too. I was on this site all the time when I first quit. It was a lifesaver, so read and post as much as possible and keep busy.

Sheryl H.: My husband still smokes, but we have not smoked inside the house for at least 10 years. Before I quit, smoking was relegated to the garage or the sunroom. Never the usual "living rooms" within the house. This has certainly made it a little easier. I no longer frequent the garage or sunroom. My husband's smoking is his business; it is not up to me to tell him what he should or should not do. My quit is my business; all up to me and my responsibility.

Quitting gives you a freedom that you will love.

Karen B.: My husband smokes. The day I quit, I looked at *my* cigs as dead and gone, never to be had again. . . I could miss them, mourn them, cry for them, want them just one more time, etc., but could never have them again. It worked for me. I did miss them and cry for them, and it was really hard. I didn't have a minute that I didn't think about them. I didn't look at my husband’s, though, as anything I wanted because those were his; mine were dead. I think you should talk to [your partner who smokes] and explain to him how much this quit means to you and that you would love his support. That doesn't mean you are making him quit – just support you with your quit. My husband is a huge supporter of mine. He high fives me with every milestone I reach. I never tell him how he stinks or tell him to quit. That is up to him.

I will tell you that if you just take it one day at a time, it really does get easier. I just celebrated one year and can't believe how fast that year has gone by. At first, time crawled – but hang in there. You can do it. Quitting gives you a freedom that you will love.

Coach Bette A: If you live with a smoker, ask them not to leave their tobacco products in sight and to smoke outdoors and out of view. If needed, remind them that being around people smoking or seeing cigarettes, lighters, etc., are strong triggers to smoke. Tell them under no circumstances are they to offer you a cigarette. Your family and friends are the people in your life who care about you, so an honest and heartfelt request will more likely than not get you the needed support.

Living with family or friends who smoke can be difficult, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t quit smoking. With the right resources, the right mindset, and the right support – both in-person and online –  your addiction to cigarettes can become a thing of the past. Be confident in your ability to stop smoking, despite the additional triggers at home, and gain strength from others at QuitNet who have succeeded.