Think smoking's popularity is in the past? For smokers, lighting up is still seen as stress relief, a part of a social life and less helpfully, an addiction to nicotine. Years of peer pressure, picking up old habits or just trying to fit in with the crowd, can leave people struggling to kick the butt when starting a new relationship.
Canada's highest rate of smokers are adults aged 19 to 29, the largest age range in the dating pool. So it's no coincidence that the Canadian Cancer Society opted to launch a campaign entitled "Break It Off" this year, which focuses on the same problems people have in their relationships.
"When you talk to smokers, they say it's like a bad boyfriend," says Kyle McKeown, communications coordinator for the Canadian Cancer Society's Smokers' Helpline. "You know you shouldn't go back to them, but you find yourself in the same bad habits."
Candace Plattor says these bad habits get worse when a non-smoker is involved. As a registered clinical counsellor based in Vancouver, she says smoking can lead to disputes if one person is lying to the other.
"It's an issue for relationships if finances are involved. When somebody decides to smoke their money away, it can be very devastating to the other partner," she says.
In other cases, Plattor says smokers and non-smokers may not be on the same page. "When some smokers are upset or anxious, they light up a cigarette," she says. "The smoker is not emotionally present for the other person, and this leads to problems."
And then there's chemistry -- or the lack of it. You know that melodramatic bedroom scene when couples have hot sex, and right after someone -- usually the man -- lights up a cigarette? This isn't exactly the reality. Last year, a U.S. study found that men who've quit smoking have better overall sexual health than men who continue to light up, according to the British Journal of Urology International.
This can leave both people in a rut -- especially if the smoker is trying to quit. Addiction expert Dr. Peter Selby of the Centre of Addiction And Mental Health says tobacco is often the first substance that people become addicted to, and the last one they get rid of.
Support might be needed to motivate the quitter, but the non-smoker will also be in need of some help. "Loved ones need to know how to set boundaries and decide why they want to tolerate smoking," says Plattor.
With files from The Canadian Press.
And if you are thinking of alternative ways to finally kick the butt, here are 15 natural ways to quit:
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