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It’s understandable that it’s not easy to say no to second-hand smoke. You may feel hesitant or embarrassed to ask someone to stop smoking. But remember, their smoke affects your health and comfort. You have the RIGHT to say no. Here are some suggestions to approaching someone who is smoking:

When someone smokes in an area where smoking is not allowed:

You can say …

“Maybe you didn’t know, but smoking is prohibited in this area according to the new UH policy.”

When someone smokes near you,

You can say…

“Could I ask you a favor? Would you please move down wind from me? Your second-hand smoke is bad for my health.”

If your friends or family members smoke around you,

You can say …

“I know it is hard for you not to smoke because cigarettes are very addictive, but I care a lot about my health. Could you please not smoke around me?”

If there is a smoker who works at the same building and smokes regularly in an area that affects you:

Approach him/her and suggest if he/she would be willing to find a spot that is convenient for him/her and also does not affect your health. You can walk around the building with the smoker and see if you can agree on some areas that can become a designated smoking area for your building area. Make sure that the designated area is in compliance with the UH policy.

As you approach smokers, please remember that smoking is very addictive and smokers don’t have much control over how often they have to smoke. Also understand that they may not want to smoke right next to the dumpster either. Be considerate about their needs, but also be firm about your needs for a healthy environment if necessary. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this on your own, you can look for other co-workers in the building who would be willing to work with you.

The Biomedical Building at the Manoa campus has a designated smoking area created through negotiation between smokers and non-smokers who work in the building as described above. If you are interested in finding out more details about how to do that, you can contact Dr. Elizabeth Tam at