My boyfriend smokes – What are the risks?

Your boyfriend is the one who makes you laugh and the one who remembers your favorite movie snack. However, if your boyfriend also smokes tobacco products you could be at risk for more than you bargain for in this relationship. Not only is your boyfriend risking his own health, but you could be exposing yourself to toxins that can cause many health issues for you.

Firsthand smoke – If your boyfriend smokes he is exposing himself to firsthand smoke, inhaling the carcinogens that are emitted from the cigarette every time he inhales on the end of the cigarette. Smoking has long been associated with health concerns, and in particular, young men are at risk for many diseases and conditions if they smoke cigarettes.

  • Teenage boys who smoke can actually stunt their height growth as well as their BMI (body mass index).
  • Young boys and men who smoke can damage the growth of their developing bones.
  • Smoking increases the likelihood of asthma symptoms, even if your boyfriend has never been diagnosed with the condition.
  • Smoking increases allergy symptoms, including cough, sneezing, and scratchy throat.

When young men smoke cigarettes they decrease their ability to participate in things such as sports, which in turn leads to even more of a decrease in healthy living. If your boyfriend is smoking, however, he is not just putting himself at risk.

Secondhand smoke – If you’re the girlfriend of someone who smokes, you have to take more precautions that simply not smoking yourself. Secondhand smoke is the smoke (even when we don’t see it) that we inhale when we are around other who are smoking. If your boyfriend smokes, you are likely exposed to two different kinds of secondhand smoke – side-stream smoke (given off by the burning end of the cigarette) and mainstream smoke (the smoke your boyfriend exhales). Both of these types of secondhand smoke can put you at risk for several conditions.

Eczema – Also known as atopic dermatitis, you could suffer from increased symptoms or even newly develop eczema symptoms as a result of exposure to secondhand smoke. If you have this skin disorder it means that your immune system is highly sensitive to certain irritants which can result in itchy, flaky, weepy, and even crusty patches of skin. The micro-particles in secondhand smoke can actually rest on your skin and irritate it, causing the eczema to intensify. These micro-particles are also what are responsible for you and your boyfriend smelling like cigarette smoke.

Hay Fever – Thought to be related somehow to eczema, hay fever is also known as allergic rhinitis. If you start feeling like you have a cold settling in whenever you spend time with your boyfriend, it could just be that you are experiencing symptoms of hay fever as a result of the secondhand smoke to which you are exposed. You might have coughing, wheezing, and extreme sinus pressure.

Asthma – If your boyfriend smokes and you expose yourself to secondhand smoke, you could increase your chances of developing adolescent or young adult asthma, or increase the severity of the symptoms you already experience. The fine particles that are present in secondhand smoke can trigger an asthma attack, sometimes so severe that medical intervention at a hospital is required. Asthma attacks occur when the tissues in the lungs are exposed to irritants or stressful events and they swell, making it very difficult for the person suffering with it to breathe.

If your boyfriend smokes, the serious risks of asthma and other medical conditions are not worth the few minutes that you put yourself at risk each time he lights up a cigarette. If your boyfriend isn’t able to quit smoking, it doesn’t mean that you have to end the relationship. Just make certain that you are putting your health as a priority and avoiding all exposure to secondhand smoke.




Dr. Gareth Forde

About Dr. Gareth Forde

An obstetrician-gynecologist, a clinical professor, a researcher, and a father of five—and he delivered them all! He speaks and publishes extensively on maternal and child health issues, where he emphasizes the role of a healthy maternal lifestyle, good nutrition, and breastfeeding on infant development. He chose the field of obstetrics because it is a celebration of life, a happy and exciting profession. “Children are a blessing and they bring joy and laughter to the world,” he says. “I cherish my work, as a doctor and a dad.” The study of genetic imprinting is a major focus of both Dr. Forde’s research and medical practice. This looks at what happens in the womb, how the genes a baby inherits are expressed (turned on and off), and how this influences the child’s health after birth. “This field holds great promise, shedding light on many unsolved mysteries in health and disease from infancy to adulthood,” he adds. Dr. Forde grew up in London, England and Orlando, Florida. He received his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and is currently pursuing a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the University of California, Irvine. Prior to this, he practiced with Grand Rapids Medical Education Partners, a consortium of Saint Mary’s Health Care, Spectrum Health, Grand Valley State University, and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine—where he was a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive biology. He also has a master’s in molecular and cellular biology from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University; a Ph.D. in environmental science (computational chemistry) from Jackson State University; and a post-doctoral fellowship in biophysics from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York.”