Asthma UK community forum

Smoker in my group


I'm a newbie...only diagnosed last July. I'm still not properly controlled. I'm on Seretide 250 4 puffs a day and montelukast. One of my problems is that the group I go to every week has a member who is a smoker. She always has a cigarette just before coming into the room. As soon as she comes within 5 yards of me I start coughing and continue for the rest of the evening. Even if she hasn't had a cigarette her clothes and hair smell so strongly of smoke that I cough even so.

What can I do? I don't want to leave the group as all my friends are there and I can hardly ask her not to come.?

6 Replies

Hi Mardi

I have a similar problem with my daughter in law, who smokes, and with someone at work who uses GALLONS of strong perfume (it's so strong it comes into the room about 10 minutes before she does, makes the tea and turns her computer on for her lol).

I just let go with the coughing and then when I had everyone's attention, which doesn't take long when you cough as well as I do :) I apologised and said I thought it was a reaction to the smoke/perfume. My daughter in law now opens all the windows when I go to see them and my colleague has toned down the perfume to an acceptable level.

Could you do something similar? If you start coughing anyway when your friend arrives it's a good way to start the conversation and ask for help.

Good luck



hi mardi and welcome to the forum :)

obviously smoke is one of your triggers, so you can politely mention this when the subject of triggers comes up or bring the subject up urself to the group at the next meeting so your not singling out the person yourself, if u feel better doing that?

alternatively if u feel brave enough u could approach her when she comes into the room and state that the smoke is a big trigger for u.

also, another thing, would be to make it obvious it is a big trigger by taking your inhaler in front of her, and see hwat the reaction is

i went to a local support group run by the british lung foundation, but most of the people there were old and suffering from COPD and the main person similarly went out halfway through to have a cigarette!! i left shortly after her as it triggere an attack ,and i had to get home, inhaler didnt work and needed to get home quick to have a neb, QUICK!! unbelievable, hey?! not going again...

good luck either way and i hope the situatrion improves

x x x


This is a really difficult one, of course you can appeal to the person in question in a direct but non confrontational way, explaining how badly smoke effects you. Though at the end of the day that person does not have to comply with your wish. Whilst I too hate smoke, I except that there are some situations that I cannot control and therefore no longer partake. The person who is smoking probably needs that cigarette as much as you need your inhaler, and possibly may not be able to cope without it like you your inhaler. It would be a real shame for you to lose out, perhaps suggest to your non smoking friends to meet somewhere else on a regular basis so that you don't lose out on these much valued friends. True friends will understand how difficult your life is with such complications and will continue to meet up with you in order to maintain the friendship.


Hi Mardi,

Its possible you could politely mention smoke is one of your triggers. The lady who smokes may not realise it upsets your asthma. Also as Katina said, she probably really wants that cig.

However, its also possible the smoker wont really care.

If you do decide to mention it, you are taking a 50-50 chance they wont smoke before the meeting.

Another problem is, assuming they take on board that smoking triggers you, they will still smell of cigarettes.

Perhaps you could sit further away from them.

Sorry, not been much help, but this is what it boils down to.



I worked with a chain smoker about 30 yrs ago (smoking at work was permitted back then) and as a result had a major attack and was off work for 6 weeks (in costa for one week). When I got back to work I told my colleague that smoking was a trigger and would he mind stopping - he more or less told me to get lost (not a nice man!). There was also another chain smoker in the office (her nickname was 'fag ash lil') and smokers in other depts.

Ever since then I simply can not bear smoke - if someone is smoking in the street and I am yards behind them it catches in my throat and I feel my lungs tighten. I couldnt be around anyone who smoked, just the smell on them would affect me. Sorry, no help to you in your predicament but I know it's a very difficult situation.


Katina, as an asthmatic and as an ex-smoker I must say that needing a cigarette is nothing like needing my inhaler! Nobody died because they couldn't smoke! ;-)

It is an interesting point though. When I smoked I don't think I would even have known how it might affect people. I think I was quite selfish about it, but I never minded if people asked me not to. I'm sure that if you tell your friend (nicely) how it affects you, you should be able to work something out together.


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