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Last updated: September 2, 2022 • Education Advice

What to Do if you’re Dating a Smoker

Smoking is a bad habit. There’s no way around that and the effect that cigarette smoke has on your health is undeniable. Still, while most people are non-smokers there are still those that engage in this practice and whether they want to stop smoking or not, some understand those effects, and some don’t. For non-smokers, the smell of tobacco may cause discomfort which is why smokers are avoided at times, judged, and stigmatized. 

The effect that cigarette smoke had, however, isn’t limited to smokers. Unlike alcohol, if person A drinks a beer, person B is not affected by person A’s consumption. Person A’s health is affected by increasing consumption, but Person B’s health is not directly affected. That is not the case for smoking which is why smokers can no longer smoke indoors and are usually required to go outside to smoke in public spaces. This led to stigmatization in society as well. 

Still, the dating world of the US in 2022 is a difficult place, and considering everything else that is set to divide us, should dating a smoker be a deal-breaker? While smoking is bad, the person who smokes isn’t. 

Dating a Smoker

set date of nicely couple

With everything going on in the world, just like everyone else, smokers have their own way of coping. Whether it’s a 10-minute break from the 9 to 5 job that barely covers your expenses or the effect every news bulletin can have on your mental health, smokers are just trying to deal with it. It just so happens that they are addicted to nicotine and not alcohol or other drugs.

After all, you are dating a person, not a bad habit, just like they are dating you, not your bad habit. Dating a smoker isn’t only having to deal with the smell of smoke as they could be the most interesting person for you. Regardless of that bad habit, are they a good person? When you start dating a smoker there are many reasons that led to you dating them. For non-smokers that, in general, tend to avoid getting too close to smokers due to the stigmatization mentioned above, dating a smoker and dealing with it all isn’t always easy.

Still, if you end up dating a smoker, what do you actually have to deal with? Firstly, we’ll look at understanding a smoker, and then we’ll give you a head’s up about things to know if you continue to date a smoker.

Understanding Nicotine Addiction

social advertisement about nicotine

Nicotine used to be considered simply a bad habit in the past. While it was promoted into popularity, when the negative health effect was understood, it remained a way of societal rebellion. Teens smoke because they want to be cool or as a form of rebellion. It used to be considered a performance, like Sandy in the last scene from Grease when she “slut’s herself so the boys will like her” – we’ll skip over the political incorrectness of that statement for this article.

Today, however, nicotine dependence is understood as an addiction and it involves both psychological and physical factors. These factors, while not causing intoxication or impairment during the use of tobacco products, create a similar addiction to other drugs. This makes it difficult for the smoker to even want to stop.

Addictive drugs, including nicotine, release dopamine in the same area of the brain. Still, nicotine, unlike other drugs, does not cause intoxication or impairment. The smoke inhaled sends nicotine to the brain within ten seconds creating the rush, a big part of the addictive result. Ceasing to smoke triggers a cycle of cravings and urges that can lead to withdrawal symptoms.

Still, there’s an abundance of research that explains what can lead to nicotine addiction and all the factors involved. From stress to genetics and mental health, even socializing with smokers can increase the chance to become a smoker. 

Take that statement as you’d like, but the truth of the matter is that smokers shouldn’t be stigmatized due to a bad habit. While I don’t promote smoking as a smoker, I know that it is unlikely that I’ll stop. That being said, should I be cast away by society? Banished? Sent to the woods and avoided? I don’t think so and I know many others don’t. We all have things we’re going through and we all have our own ways of dealing with it, so if you’re dating a smoker try to understand what you’re dealing with before you judge. 

What’s it like to Date a Smoker?

group of young people

The first thing people comment on when socializing with smokers is the smell. Non-smokers have a higher sensitivity to cigarette smoke. A smoker is less likely to be bothered by it, seeing as their sense of smell and taste are slightly affected by smoking leading to a decrease in sensitivity. If you’re not used to the smell of smoke it will bother you and, while there are ways to get rid of the smell of cigarettes, they will smell of smoke anyway.

Here are a few things you should be aware of when you start dating a smoker. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Making a list of pros and cons of dating a smoker won’t be balanced because the pros won’t have anything to do with smoking. There is only one positive to dating a smoker and that is that you will spend more time outside on terraces, in nature, or outdoors near the water, but we’ll get into that as well in a second.

Smell of Cigarettes is Everywhere

passive smoking concept

Cigarette smoke has a tendency to get into everything and gets absorbed by anything. From pillows to walls and every fabric in the apartment, is affected by third-hand smoke. This type of smoke stalls into fabrics and you need to act proactively if you want to get rid of it. Smokers that care for their health and home know how to get rid of all that smoke before it gets into everything, but it’s not the easiest type of cleaning.

Regular showers and rinsing of clothes in some light detergent get the job done. Similarly, airing out closed spaces, and using air purifiers or fresheners help. Still, when you are close to a smoker for extended periods of time, the smoke tends to be contagious and will get into your clothes as well. In time, non-smokers can get used to the smell, but it will still be there even if it’s not as noticeable anymore. Other people could be bothered by your smell even if you aren’t aware of it anymore.

10-minute Breaks

group of adults having a break

If you’re dating a daily smoker, you will become aware that most activities get interrupted by a cigarette break. At work, at restaurants, at clubs or bars, they will occasionally have to go out for a smoke. As a smoker that doesn’t have only smoker friends, I can say that those ten-minute breaks don’t bother me. At work, you get ten minutes off to get your mind off of work stuff and enjoy the time off. You listen to music, catch up on social media, enjoy your surroundings or chat with other smokers. This applies to other breaks as well and going out for a smoke in a park or simply having brunch outside is a different pattern than non-smokers follow, but they spend a lot more time indoors.

Non-smokers may be bothered by these ten-minute breaks but as long as the need to smoke doesn’t happen in a dramatic moment, simply going on the balcony or terrace in the hot or cold weather isn’t the end of the world for anyone. Still, something to keep in mind, cigarette smoke needs a greater distance than 6 feet. So, if you accompany them during their ten-minute cigarette break, know that it can get on you. However, keeping them away from smoking might lead to some discomfort for the smoker. If the period is extended they may get grumpy.

Physical Aspect

exhausted man resting

When it comes to physical activity, while smoking does carry a heavy punch affecting lung capacity, resilience for longer physical activity, or stamina, it depends on the smoker. Yes, if you compare a smoker to a non-smoker that doesn’t engage in physical exercises, you might see that they both can endure about the same amount of physical effort. But you could also compare a smoker that’s in good shape to a non-smoker that isn’t and realize that the smoker is more resilient. Engaging in physical activity like yoga isn’t only good for endurance, but also for physical health regardless of smoking. It’s possible to have a healthy lifestyle and be a smoker, just like you can be a non-smoker and have an unhealthy lifestyle. 

Still, smoking affects the lungs, the heart, arterial pressure, endurance, prowess, and performance. Smokers are more exposed to health problems like infections, renal diseases, erectile dysfunction, and other life-threatening diseases. A young smoker may barely see any of these symptoms, but as they get older, symptoms become more obvious, and their impact increases.

Growing Risk to Become a Smoker

young man lightning cigarette

As one of the most common causes for which someone starts to smoke is being close to a smoker, if you start dating a smoker the chances of you becoming one are increasing. The people we surround ourselves with tend to influence our lives in many ways including music, lifestyle, interests, and jobs. We tend to become interested in the things that they are interested in and some habits can rub off on us. For those dating a smoker, smoking is one of those habits that can be picked up. This is not a rule, however, as smokers don’t limit their social circle to other smokers and not all of their friends are smokers or become smokers. My best friend of 16 years is not a smoker and I smoked for 14 of those years. 

Genetic predisposition to addiction can increase the chances of someone becoming a smoker as well. For instance, someone who grew up with nicotine, alcohol, shopping, medication, or drug addictions is more likely to develop some type of addiction over time. However, if you have a history of addictions in your family, try to avoid spending time with smokers when they smoke.


Dating a smoker is the same as dating anyone else. You meet someone, you vibe with them, they treat you right, they listen to your struggles and your journey and they just so happen to be a smoker. The pros and cons of dating a smoker are there because you are dating an individual that is as complex as you are. They might be a writer, an accountant, a stock investor, or a hiker, regardless of whether they are or aren’t a smoker. Being a smoker doesn’t define anyone, just like someone isn’t defined by their job, passion, family, or income.

Let us know in the comments section below if you have any experience dating a smoker and what it was like for you. Like & Share this article if you considered it provided a different view on the habit of smoking and if you found anything intriguing within the content.


One Response to " What to Do if you’re Dating a Smoker "

  1. Terry Evans says:

    Ms. Herdean,
    Great article. I have been dating a woman for over two years now who is a smoker (I am not). She was upfront with me from the time I asked out that she was a smoker and had no plans to quit. We are both in our early 60’s and I had my reservations about dating her long term but I have found out it is really a non issue with me. She is very considerate and will not smoke in confined spaces with me. Even with that, the smell of smoke on her is always there and I have gotten used to it. She seldom has to leave an activity other than dinners to smoke. If we are going to linger at dinner, she will need to leave the table and go outside to smoke.

    I am so glad I didn’t judge her after she told me she was a smoker. Being a smoker and her nicotine dependence does not define who she is. She is a wonderful woman and someone who I can spend the rest of my life with.


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