Getting a Spouse to Stop Smoking in the House? Tough but Do-Able!

Mar 17, 2011 6:00pm

Dear Liz,

My husband is a constant smoker and I am not. They are cheap cigarettes so the smell bad. We have burn marks in chairs, carpet, clothes, kitchen floor, and he is not aware of the trail of ashes he leaves on the floor all over the house.  The house and everything in it stinks. We have talked with no results.  How can I get him to be more alert to the situation of the smell and leaving his trail and not smoking in my face.  I can’t even leave my coat out overnight without stinking like smoke in the morning.  He doesnt believe second hand smoke harms either.

Sandy: Toledo/OH

Hi Sandy-Thanks for writing in. So many things come to mind here for me.  First of all, I’m sorry. What a huge huge imposition on the quality of your life. You state here that you have talked, with no results.  Sandy you need to speak louder. This is hands down unacceptable.  Times and findings have changed drastically since your husband began smoking.  Smokers are such creatures of habit, try and remember that.  It will help in understanding the method to making your home habitable for yourself.

You can’t make him quit, but you can control your own environment. I would get a plan in action immediately.  I say he should not smoke in the house at all, but perhaps you are going to have to work up to that.  The winters in Ohio are not warm, so the winter days will be tough for him as eventually, he will have to step outside of the house to smoke.  For now, you can begin by asking him to  limit his smoking to one room in the house.  Ask him to open the window in that room.  I would suggest this be an office or a den, preferably not your bedroom, or even the living room.  Explain to him that you cannot have the ashes and the smell permeating your entire home, and that you believe this is a reasonable compromise.  The tough part here is that you have allowed it for so long, so he is used to having free reign of a very ugly habit.  Few people smoke in their homes, and the idea that he doesn’t believe second hand smoke is harmful is shocking.  Has he noticed the smoking restrictions out in the world? Ask him if he knows those are due to health risks.  It isn’t that it’s “rude” it is harmful to others, thus, no more smoking on trains, planes, cabs, restaurants even bars.  Pull up the literature if you’re interested in educating him, but most importantly get him to limit the smoking to a room.  Is there any way to set up a smoking area for him outside your home in a yard, or patio?  This might take some time, but you must do it Sandy, and you can. Eventually you want to graduate to letting him know that he has to smoke outside. I hope this can be a beginning to a less smoke infested environment for you.  Lay the law down Sandy this is a must!    

Good luck!




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