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Should I feel bad for telling my boyfriend he has to smoke outside?

By Anonymous November 4, 2009 - 3:58pm
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My boyfriend & I live together, and he smokes, a lot.. Like a pack and a half a day. Mostly in the house.. I've asked him to stop, but he never sticks to it. The thing is.. I smoke pot a couple times a day in the house... Not anywhere near as much tobacco smoke comes out of my pipe.

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I agree with Pat and Rosa completely. A daylong exposure to second-hand smoke is harmful to you (and, while you didn't mention children or pets, it is harmful to them as well).

If this is very important to you, why don't you make the house an entire non-smoking house? Meaning, anyone who smokes anything does it outside -- including you. Would you be willing to do that if it meant you got the cigarettes out of the house?

November 6, 2009 - 8:38am


Pat gave you some great information. I am not a smoker of any kind and when I met my DH he used to smoke inside of his apartment when I walked in there I felt as though I would die a little every time. I sat him down and basically told him that I could not live like that. My eyes hurt, my throat hurt, my nose was stuffy-- I wouldn't even like to stay over because of it. So, he understood and there is absolutely NO smoking inside our house especially now that we have a baby. As a matter of fact, I ask that he washes his mouth frequently and changes his shirt when he gets home from work. I have no shame in asking him to do these things because if I made the choice not to smoke it was to be a healthier person and I don't feel that anyone has the right to take that away from me or my son.

Good luck, you are not making an unreasonable request.

November 5, 2009 - 6:51am
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Hello Anon -
I think you've asked the wrong question. The question is, "Should I continue to allow myself to be exposed to second-hand smoke and endanger my health?"

My concern is that you're endangering your health by allowing second hand smoke in your home, and there are serious consequences from doing this.

I'm going to provide you with solid information on how allowing second-hand smoke in your home can impact both you and your boyfriend. It obviously would be best for both of you if he didn't smoke at all, but that may not be a realistic solution. What you can do though is take steps to support good health for both of you, and that means at least moving the smoking out of your home.

Good luck, and let me know how it goes and if you need more information.

Secondhand tobacco smoke contains over 4,700 chemical compounds. More than 200 of these are known poisons such as carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, and methyl isocyanate. There are also over 60 potentially carcinogenic substances, including nitrosamines, aromatic amines, benzene, benzopyprene, and formaldehyde.

In addition to these toxins, nonsmokers who are exposed to ETS absorb nicotine, the physically addictive component of tobacco. Once absorbed by the body, nicotine is broken down into cotinine. Scientists can use a highly specific blood test for cotinine to determine the amount of ETS exposure. After conducting many tests like these, researchers say there is strong and convincing evidence that secondhand smoke poses serious health risks.

This scientific opinion was again confirmed in 2006 by the release of an important document entitled “The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General." In this report Dr. Carmona spelled out six important conclusions about secondhand smoke:

* Exposure is widespread.
* Exposure is associated with disease and premature death.
* Exposed children are at particular risk of respiratory disorders and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
* Adults may suffer immediate harm from exposure, and both heart disease and cancer are caused by second hand smoke.
* There is no risk-free level of exposure.
* Only prohibition of indoor smoking is effective in reducing exposure and risk.


Although one well-publicized 2003 study did not find a link between cancer and secondhand smoke, results from over 50 trials in the last 25 years have convinced most researchers that ETS can lead to lung cancer . For non-smoking spouses of smokers, passive smoking increases the risk of lung cancer by 20% for women and 30% for men. In 2002 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (an affiliate of the World Health Organization) concluded that “there is sufficient evidence that involuntary smoking (exposure to secondhand or ‘environmental’ tobacco smoke) causes lung cancer in humans.”

In the US, secondhand smoke causes an estimated 3,000 lung cancer deaths per year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. (By comparison, active cigarette smoking leads to over 128,000 lung cancer deaths yearly.) The Agency classifies ETS as a Group A carcinogen—a category reserved only for the most dangerous cancer-causing agents in humans.

In addition to lung cancer, scientists have linked ETS to nasal sinus cancer and are studying possible associations with cancers of the cervix , breast , and bladder . There is some evidence that pets that live in smoking households have a higher risk of certain cancers. Secondhand smoke may be as dangerous to other animals as it is to humans.

Heart Disease

Each year in this country ETS causes about 10 times as many deaths from cardiovascular disease as it does from cancer. This includes more than 40,000 deaths from coronary heart disease . There are several reasons for these adverse effects. The nicotine in tobacco increases heart rate and blood pressure . The other toxins in cigarette smoke also promote blood clotting and damage the inner lining of the arteries, including the arteries of the heart.

Exposure to ETS also impairs coronary artery circulation in healthy nonsmokers, according to a study published in the July 25, 2001 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association . Within 30 minutes after exposure to ETS, the coronary arteries of nonsmokers function as poorly as those of regular smokers. Research indicates the abnormal changes—when repeated—encourage plaque buildup in coronary arteries that can lead to heart disease.

All in all, the risk of death due to heart disease is increased by about 30% among those exposed to ETS, an editorial accompanying the article notes. This compares with a doubling or quadrupling of risk associated with active smoking. “Thus, the effect of passive smoking is as high as one third the effect of active smoking,” the editorial says.

Asthma in Adults

Secondhand smoke at the workplace and at home is significantly associated with the development of asthma in adults. Many adults report that they have the most exposure to and symptoms from secondhand smoke during travel. While restaurants can be sources of exposure to ETS, some researchers have described “5 Bs” which pose the highest risk: bars, bowling alleys, billiard halls, bingo parlors, and betting establishments.

Illnesses In Children

While the risk of death from ETS is highest in older adults, children are especially susceptible to the harmful effects of ETS. Youngsters who unknowingly breathe smoke are more likely to develop ear infections , asthma, and other respiratory diseases. ETS causes up to 300,000 lower respiratory infections—such as pneumonia , and bronchitis —each year in US children less than 18 months of age, resulting in as many as 15,000 hospitalizations. It’s estimated that annually, exposure to ETS is associated with 10,000 premature births and 2,000 deaths due to sudden infant death syndrome .

Human Reproduction

Less is known for certain about reproductive risks associated with second hand smoke. It is well established that active smoking is associated with both male and female infertility. It is also a major cause of low birth weight in infants. Some evidence suggests that second hand smoke may also impair fertility and lead to smaller babies. Further studies will be needed to assess these concerns.

Is There a Safe Limit?

At any age ETS can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs, as well as coughing and chest discomfort. It also kills up to 65,000 nonsmokers each year from respiratory illnesses, heart disease, or cancer—making it the third leading preventable cause of death in the US. A large body of data indicates these detrimental effects occur even at very low levels of exposure.

There are no safe levels of secondhand smoke, says the American Cancer Society, which recommends reducing exposure to the lowest possible amount. Studies suggest that separate non-smoking areas in restaurants and other establishments may not adequately reduce exposure among patrons. As the dangers of ETS have become well established, many businesses and public places are becoming smoke-free, either by choice or by local or state regulation. For your health and that of your family, patronize smoke-free establishments, avoid smoke-filled “5 B’s”, and eliminate secondhand smoke at home.


American Cancer Society

American Heart Association

American Lung Association

November 4, 2009 - 6:33pm
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