How to Navigate Secondhand Smoke Living with a Smoker
By Madeline May |
It is known that secondhand smoke harms those around a smoker. However, many people are still affected by secondhand smoke. How should someone navigate the trickiness associated with living with a smoker?
5 Tips for Non-Smokers to Avoid Secondhand Smoke
Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals that can affect the lungs of non-smokers. Secondhand smoke is a combination of two types of smoke:
- Sidestream smoke – smoke coming directly from a cigarette or cigar
- Mainstream smoke – smoke that a smoker breathes out
Smoke poses a danger to the smoker, but it can also affect the health of non-smokers that breathe in that secondhand smoke. 2nd hand smoke is almost as threatening as if non-smokers were smoking themselves.
Data shows that lung cancer patients that have a history of secondhand smoke entering their lungs have a worse prognosis than those who do not. Patients exposed also have a reduced overall survival rate, reduced progression-free survival, and are simply more likely to die. Including secondhand smoke exposure, there are more than 480,000 smoking-related deaths per year which is why Lung Cancer Center gathered 5 tips for nonsmokers to navigate living with a smoker and avoid secondhand smoke.
Tip 1: Recognize Your Mental Health
Living with a smoker can cause a strain on the relationship you share with them. A stressed relationship can be difficult to navigate and introduce negative effects on both parties’ mental health. Additionally, medical professionals have discovered that inhaling 2nd hand smoke is associated with an increase in symptoms of depression and suicidal ideation among adults.
If you notice you are experiencing these feelings, it is essential to express them to the smoker in your life. When having this difficult discussion, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Be polite
- Be non-confrontational
- Be respectful
- Be non-judgmental
Tip 2: Set Boundaries for Treatment
After receiving a diagnosis of lung cancer or other symptoms and diseases, treatment will begin. However, treatment and recovery will not be effective unless exposure to smoke has stopped.
It is not always possible to avoid 2nd hand cigarette smoke exposure. If you are often near a smoker, here are some ways to set avoid smoke and set boundaries:
- Move away from the smoker and find a smoke-free place
- Do not allow smoking in the car
- Talk to your loved one about quitting
- Discuss the effects smoking will have on your treatment to your loved one
Tip 3: Don’t Allow Secondhand Smoke Indoors
Secondhand smoke can be dangerous to everyone near the smoker. This is because secondhand smoke can travel between rooms of a home and apartment units. Although opening a window may increase ventilation in a car or home, it does not protect those affected. Additionally secondhand smoke can stay in the room for some time after someone smokes there. After the smoke is in the air, it settles through the room on surfaces, remaining a threat. Also drawing the line at electronic cigarettes is helpful in preventing triggers.
Asking indoor smokers to move outside may result in adverse reactions; we admit it can be an intimidating conversation to have. Encourage them to go outside or at the very least open a window if only for the sake of your treatment. Additionally, the place you live may not allow indoor smoking and you can use that as an encouragement to not smoke inside.
Tip 4: Be Cautious of Secondhand Smoke on Clothes
Not only can smoke stick to the surfaces indoors, but it can also adhere to clothing. If the smoker in your life smokes indoors, the smoke may stick to your clothes even if you are not around them. Wash your clothes and linens often to rid them of odors and settled smoke. If they continue to smell, hanging them to dry outside can often eliminate the odor.
On the other hand, if the person you live with smokes outside, they can bring smoke indoors on their clothes. Before going outside, the smoker could put on a protective layer such as a sweatshirt. After returning from their outdoor smoking session, ask them to change out of the smokey layer.
Tip 5: Encourage to Stop Smoking
Most importantly, encourage the smoker in your life to quit smoking. Quitting smoking can have instant side effects on the smoker and non-smoker’s health. Whether you or a loved one are hoping to quit smoking, there are some tips to follow.
- Set a date to quit when stress is low
- Try nicotine replacement therapy
- Avoid cigarette alternatives like vaping e-cigarettes
- Avoid triggers
- Eat a healthy diet
- Surround with support
- Exercise or move
- Practice mental health relaxation techniques
By avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke, people are more likely to survive lung cancer and other threatening conditions like mesothelioma. If you believe that you may have contracted a lung disease due to secondhand smoke, we can connect you to an expert.