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What would you say to a coworker who smokes?

Hi everyone, We have a new guy at work, who is friendly and all but smokes often. He goes out of the building 2-3 times a day to smoke and comes back with a strong smell, which disturbs me much especially if I have to sit nearby. We told him several times it is bad for him (which I bet he knows anyway) but it doesn’t look like he intends to quit. Well, I want him to stop for our sake when he’s at work… but as he’s friendly and helps us, I don’t want to sound mean. Luckily I never had asthma symptoms next to him. What would you do?

Community Answers
  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    6 months ago

    Hi WheezyMe and thanks for posting this.
    As Lyn has said, this is an extremely sensitive issue and one that much of the world is dealing with.
    Your place-of -business policy should guide the behavior of those who work with you. But, knowing how smokers can be, they will find a way to smoke – even if it is following company guidelines.
    My place of business also has created a ‘smoke free’ campus, but I’ve found smokers continue to smoke within the guidelines! Interestingly enough, some years ago, an employee was found smoking in the locker room and was actually terminated – that went a long way towards compliance by everyone else!
    If your colleague actually ‘reeks’ when he returns from his smoking break, you’ll have to analyze the best way to approach this with him. Would ‘Fabreze’ help? Even though you haven’t experienced symptoms with him around, do you think you would benefit from wearing a protective mask when he’s around? Do you think that might ‘shame’ him into quitting while on the premises?
    Wishing you luck, Leon (site moderator)

  • WheezyMe author
    6 months ago

    Thank you Leon as always for your reply!
    I’m glad your workplace is strict regarding smoking inside.
    However, as I wrote in response to Lyn, he may follow our workplace policy and it would still disturb me because some of the smoke sticks to him.
    I don’t want to shame him- that’s the exact point. I want to keep in good terms and make him understand my need also.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    6 months ago

    It’s our pleasure, WheezyMe. We always appreciate your comments and input.
    Leon (site moderator)

  • Lyn Harper, RRT moderator
    6 months ago

    That’s a tough one, WheezyMe. As you know, it can be a very sensitive subject, so you have to tread lightly.

    What is your company policy with regard to smoking? That can often be what sets the tone for how it’s viewed. It’s frowned upon where I work to the point that smokers have to cross the street to have a cigarette – no more butt huts. Also, perhaps your company offers a smoking cessation program that you could suggest to him.

    You could tell him that due to your asthma, cigarette smoke can be a bad trigger. Ask him if it’s possible that he cut back on how often he goes out due to the smell on his clothing, etc. Of course, you should be prepared for negative response, as he may feel you’re minding his business.

    I’ll be very interested in other suggestions that people have. I hope you find something that works!

    Lyn (site moderator)

  • WheezyMe author
    6 months ago

    Hi Lyn,
    Thank you for your reply!
    My workplace prohibits smoking except for some defined outdoor space. Maybe that coworker follows the rules and inly smokes there, but the smell is a problem and it’s hard to explain it to people who are not asthmatics.
    I’ll try though.

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