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Secret Smoker having trouble
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Secret Smoker having trouble

Hi. I just turned 30, and Ive been a "secret smoker" for the past 15 years and Im worried that I'm going to have trouble owning up to it. I'm just wondering if anyone else is a closet/secret smoker and how they have dealt with it?

I grew up in a non-smoking household and not many of my friends smoked growing up, but I always wanted to try it when I was younger, so I didnt get around to sneaking my first cigarette until I was 15. Because I didnt hang out with many smokers, I tended to do most of my smoking very infrequently and very privately, sneaking a few cigarettes by myself in the morning before school or afternoon after school. I continued to smoke off and on throughout the rest of my teenage years, smoking a bit more routinely when I left for college, but still never socially identified myself as a smoker, probably partly because my mother was so against it, and partly because I went to college with a few of my good friends from high school who were anti-smoking. The trouble was, that deep down I really loved smoking, even though it was bad for me and thought I wanted to be a smoker, but I just didnt like all the social stigma attached to it.

I continued to be an infrequent/light "secret smoker" until about 8 years ago when I started grad school, when my daily smoking really took off, and I started to have to go to great extremes to conceal my smoking. I went from smoking a few cigarettes every few days, to smoking at least half a pack a day, often times more, every day - almost always privately, in a way so as to maintain my public image of being a non-smoker. Stupid I know. For about two years when I lived alone, around 6-7 years ago, I got up to where I was smoking almost two packs a day and still trying to keep it secret. Always changing clothes, washing my hands or face, taking showers, brushing my teeth, chewing gum or breath mints, spraying myself with extra cologne, all while making a point to not smoke in my car or in my apartment. I had a covered balcony at my apartment building towards the back of the complex where I could chain-smoke in total privacy, and I would frequent various spots on campus where I could sneak away for a few crafty cigarettes in relative anonymity. You'd be suprised how well you can conceal the fact that you smoke 2 packs a day from your non-smoking girlfriend when you live alone.

Then my lovely non-smoking girlfriend moved in with me during her freshman year of college, which was my last year of grad school. That forced me to substantially step up my concealment efforts, and grudgingly cut back on my beloved smoking. Over the course of that year my secret smoking dwindled down to around a pack a day, all done either on campus, or away from my apartment, and done so that I'd have the chance to clean up and change clothes before I saw her again. After I graduated I got a 1 year internship in a different city and my non-smoking girlfriend transfered schools so she could follow me, which was sweet. During most of my internship year I continued to secretly smoke almost 1 pack a day, which got harder and hard to conceal, despite my increasing aptitude and I slowly cut back to where I was only secretly smoking around 1/2 a pack a day by the end of the internship. With my employer, and girlfriend being so staunchly anti-smoking, it pretty much meant I had to keep hiding my smoking.

Also during the internship year when I turned twenty-eight I got engaged to my lovely nineteen year old non-smoking live-in girlfriend, who then became my non-smoking wife, all while continuing to hide my 1/2 a pack a day smoking habit. After the internship I got a good position with a local firm, with two bosses who were also very anti-smoking. Yet the long hours and stressful workplace pushed me to feel the need to smoke more than ever, so I continued my elaborate ritual of secretly smoking, going to the gym to shower and change into non-smoking clothes before going to work, and often doing the same on my way back home, just so I can get that much needed nicotine fix. So for most of the past two years Ive kept up this routine, usually secretly smoking at least 1/2 a pack a day, but occasionally smoking a 1-2 packs a day when my lovely non-smoking wife leaves town to go visit her family.

Now as I turn 30 I find myself confronted with the reality that while I really do love smoking and am probably addicted, I know its not only bad for my career but also bad for my health, as I have found myself with near constant upper respitory tract infections and smokers cough these past two-three years. Then as I come home after sneaking yet more cigarettes, I look at my sweet little 21 year old house wife who looks so happy to see me, and I nervously avoid her and head straight to the shower to change clothes and 'wash up'. She has never said anything about it, never found any cigarettes, and never made any effort to ask me any questions about it, but I'm begining to think she's starting to suspect something. I feel guilty when I look into her eyes. Not because I lie to her, because technically, I figure Im not lying if she doesnt ask; but I also feel guilty because I realize that with my family history of heart disease and cancer, its entirely possible that if I dont quit this secret smoking I could end up dying in my late 40s or 50s, leaving no one to support or take care of her and any children we may have. Theoritically I understand these risks, yet I still think that I long to smoke, like Im trying to ignore some bizzare death drive that I dont even begin to understand.

I just wonder if anyone else has also been a closet/secret smoker, and if so how have you dealt with it?
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16 Comments Post a Comment
Wow! That is a mighty effort on your part! I can't get over it. If you have the tenacity to achieve this for so long, I am positive you can quit!!

You don't love smoking. You just think u do. You must often be in withdrawal so you would know what to expect. Goodness. It won't be so hard to quit for you I don't think. You just have to want to do it. REALLY want to do it. Its not like you are having an affair or anything and I suspect your lovely 21-year-old, nonsmoking wife probably has some idea!!

Fess up. With her support it will be even easier for you. Sorry I can't offer advice as I haven't been in your predicament but u do have my empathy. You will both be relieved it is out in the open and you won't have to keep living such a "hard" life and I imagine that really is a hard life!!!

Good luck!
like i have hear of closet smokers before, but your story is totally facinating. honestly i never really understood it myself because im totally addicted to the social side of smoking as much as im addicted to the nicotine, so im just real upfront about my chain smoking.

but i used to know this girl who was totally trying to hide the fact that she was smoking from her parents and friends and from a guy she was dating, and it was funny because i knew they guy and he was like a sometimes smoker himself but just really lowkey about it so i guess she didnt know. it was even wierder because her dad was like in the airforce and had smoked for years then quit then started secretly smoking again and was also totally trying to hide it from his family when he caught his daughter and me smoking behind their backyard shed one night, and we totally saw the pack of cigarettes in his shirt pocket! its like there is this whole society of secret smokers, keeping secrets.

if you want to be a smoker, just be a smoker and your wife will probably understand. she probably know already and is just being nice about it. plus your wife is like alot younger than you, like nine years younger, so she will probably be ok. as a girl who likes to date or hook up with much older men myself, i can admit that i tend to be ok with whatever they want to do, as long as they are respecting me and not cheating or anything like that. you dont want her to feel wierd so you would feel better about your smoking if you were just more open about it. but if you dont want to be open about smoking, then you should just quit and you will feel better about it that way too.

interesting situation thought, hope everything goes ok.
Interesting. I agree with ViolaBow, it shouldnt be a big deal for you to stop with as much energy as you put into hiding it.

I could never hide it is my problem. I would just simply disappear from society because I was spending so much time in the closet! No one would no me!

IMO, just lay em down, they are not worth all the drama and all, so just lay em down and hang on for dear life till the pain passes. Sort of like giving birth actually
Thanks for your vote of confidence. I'm kinda torn, because on the one hand I agree with you and ViolaBow that if I applied half as much effort that I spend hiding my smoking on instead trying to quit smoking, then I'd probably be able to quit.

This may seem like a silly distinction, but I think there are people who dont like smoking and want to quit but cant quit because they are addicted - which is Not the catagory Im in; and then there are people who do like smoking and dont really want to quit - and may still be addicted, which is probably more accurate for me. So for me its not a mere matter of beating the chemical dependance on nicotine, I think I could do that if I wanted to. For me its the psychology of wanting to want to smoke. its like desiring to desire.

Some people desire smoking in and of itself. I think I enjoy that, but that I desire to desire smoking. It sounds convoluted, and I suppose that it is, but its an important part of why I seem to end up in this bizzare situation. If I could have my way, without feeling guilty, I might have just come out and been an open smoker years ago, perhaps back in high school or at least college - I could have dealt with whatever family stigma is assigned to smokers when I younger, ten years ago or earlier, so that by the time I entered the workforce I would be more comfortable with the public image of a smoker.

Even if I had gone that route - and been more open about my smoking and my identity as a smoker, I could still choose to quit smoking at some future point and engage in that battle when the time was right. maybe it would have made the struggle of quitting make more sense if everyone understood me as a smoker first. Plus, perhaps feeling the full brunt of the social stigma of being a smoker in today's non-smoking world would give me that much more genuine motivation to quit smoking all-together, but by hiding it and keeping to a discreet 6-10 cigarettes a day most days, I have side stepped both the social advantages and disadvantages of being a smoker and am left with only the bare enjoyment and the harsh health consequences.

The other aspect of this is that since no one really knows I smoke now, no one would really know if I quit. Even if I come clean and tell my wife that Ive been a closet smoker all these years, its not going to make me smoke less around her than I already do - which is already zero. If anything Id be tempted to use it as an excuse to ask her to let smoke more without feeling the need to hide it from her all the time. Moreover, I dont know how good those studies are that say that smoking just 5 cigarettes a day is just as bad as smoking 1.5 to 2 packs a day (which seems so utterly illogical to me); but if that were by chance true, then how could I ever coutenence trying to explain to my family why I might have lung cancer in my 50's and would still have kids in school - it would be an absurd tragedy that I know I should take steps to avoid.

Its just that its hard to quit something that you may have only half way committed to, but that you still are facinated by the other half that you didnt committ to. I dont know if this explaination is doing justice to my conflicted feelings on this, but I hope it at least makes sense.
My husband smokes a pack a week. His doctor told him that he didnt smoke enuff to worry about quitting. Ya know, If I could only smoke a few a day, I wouldnt worry about it either, but the problem for me is the reason I started smoking and I think if we all think about it, the reason we started will tell alot about how hard it will be to quit. IMO anyways.

Like I started smoking when a neighbor pushed a cigarette in my face and said smoke it, during a very very traumatizing event in my life. That cigarette made me lite headed and it seemed to calm me. Well, after that, every time I got upset or out of control of my emotions, I would grab a smoke. It was just a few at first, then the next thing ya no I was a 2 pack a dayer.

So everytime I get upset or stressed, I want to smoke! I always liked it and enjoyed it immensely but I got to a point where I knew it would kill me and I no longer had a choice to do it, if I wanted to live that is. It has been almost 3 months and the anxiety and panic attacks are an issue for me. But you see, they were the reason I started smoking to begin with, not that I get that way because Im not smoking. So now I have to deal with the anxiety and panic and anger in a different way, one I should have learned all those years ago instead of the smoking to cope with it all. Now I take paxil and it is beginning to kick into gear just in the last couple of days. I have a ways to go but I will do it this time. I do not want to die grasping for air that I cannot get into my lungs. That would be a horrific way to go imo.

Your problem is rooted in why you started in the first place and your right when you say that you just like to smoke. I think the mental part of it is much more of a problem than the physical addiction itself.
Ah there is the difference Jimmy. I have been a 31 year smoker who ended up hating it but it took me a long time and a very hardcore addiction to reach that point. I was smoking 50+ a day and spending about $27 a day on my addiction and now I am on a disability pension so it got up to the point where I was selling some very collectable records and CDs I have spent years acquiring much less than their actual value. After they go, its the house and then I will have to rob banks or prostitute myself to sustain this addiction. Thankfully the music has been my cut-off point. I can't bring myself to part with them just to smoke the rewards. So I have to say I hated being ruled by something so much and ended up hating them.

That is how I know I have finally quit. That and the fact that I realised all of a sudden I only ever smoked to stave off withdrawals (which for me were horrendous). I don't know why I was blind to that really obvious fact for so long :)

You on the other hand actually do enjoy it. So I do see the difference. Big time. I am an all or nothing kind of girl. I can't just half do something. I either do it or I don't. I have tried...boy have I tried! It just doesn't work.

This leaves you only two options then.

You either fess up or carry on as you are. I don't understand the question though. Are you asking how do ppl cope with it mentally or how do ppl find more sneaky ways to keep smoking? I did that at school! Toilet blocks are usually good....mints etc. You seem to be doing all that...

Good luck with it!!  

Final question, what is it you actually enjoy about smoking?
Hey Jimmy,

Yeah I'm pretty much a "closet smoker" I guess. I'm 18, male. I always wanted to smoke since I was little. I smoked butts or whole cigs left on the ground when I could starting in high school. Nothin big. It was just really fun to do something bad and it was just sooooo exciting. Seriously. I would get boners. lol. So then 3 years ago my mom and I went to Europe and I was working in this kitchen at a language school. I got to hang out with the kids after they got off and I started bumming cigs off them. I had one of my friends buy a pack for me and then I started to smoke one after work in this beautiful field away from everyone so no one would know. I smoked about 1-2 a day or more, rationing them out until our departure date.

I wanted to get addicted. I love the smell of smoke, especially the inhale or a whiff of second-hand smoke. I loved just hanging around kids and smoking. It was just fun. After smoking with my friends, I saw my mom come over. I said goodnight to her then made the mistake. I gave her a hug. She smelled smoke and asked if I smoked. I fessed up. So disappointed. I couldn't sleep that night. I felt horrible for letting her down. Later we talked and I told her I liked it and whatever and she was just really bummed out. She was like "I didn't bring you here to learn how to smoke" and whatever and I tried to tell her that it was inevitable. That if I didn't start now, it was going to happen. I don't think she's ever seen me smoke.

When we got back to America she kept saying crap jokingly about me smoking and it made me sooo embarrassed. I HATED when she brought it up and later I told her that it was because smoking and people who smoke are REALLY looked down upon here and I cared about my image a lot. I told her I'd probably never smoke since it was so socially unacceptable here which is true.

Then, near the end of my freshman year of college, in April or so probably, I got the worst hankering for a cigarette. What triggered it was I was looking at a blog fuckyeahindieguys that had glam shots of indie guys smoking. I'm almost positive it got beautiful images of beautiful people smoking and made me want to smoke and be handsome. Funny but true. So it was raining, cold and horrible and I bought my first pack of cigs on my own. The first one was horrid and I was cursing myself. I smoked a second one and it wasn't as horrible. I was surprised how short they lasted. Marlboro Reds. It wasn't fun trying to hide the smell from my roommate and everyone else. Also, my university is a no-smoking campus. Even better.

That's actually one reason why I chose the campus because I didn't want to start smoking again and I knew it would be easy. I remember doing a report on the bad effects of smoking such as mouth/lung cancer to deter me from smoking.

So I started smoking on campus but there is NO WHERE to do it. Unless you do it behind the parking garage but then if you're there everyone knows you're smoking. So then one night I was sitting down, took my first puff of my cig and one of my suuuper conservative friends, who I think looks up to me because I'm the "good kid" turn's the corner and recognizes me. It's dark. I put the cig out and put it in my pocket. I look over. The Reds pack is right beside me. I don't bother trying to put it away. If he asks, I'll fess up. He says "so you're having your 'quiet time' too?" I say "yeah... somethin like that." AAHAHAHAHHAHA. So he sat down near me for a little bit and it's cold. I have my coat on and I was going to sit there as long as it took him to go away. He walks away after like 10-15 mins. Then I take a walk, trying to find a place to smoke. I do but it's terrible when you can't just enjoy your cig. I didn't smoke too much after that. It was way too risky around there. Waited till school was out. Got home, started smoking one a night then my throat got all nasty or whatever. I smoke when I feel good. Funny huh? I think it has to do that I started in the field and felt good. So I'm getting tired of writing now.

I'm with my mom for the summer and I'm smoking about 1 a day-ish. I do it at night. I sit out and listen to the calm night. I had my wisdom teeth out 5 days ago and I didn't smoke for about 10 days before that so I think that's a victory. I suggest trying to just do 1-3 a day. From what I've read, if you really want to smoke, enjoy a little bit instead of quitting right now. I would also really suggest to fess up to your wife. If I was she, I might think you're cheating or something. Don't act suspicious like that. She'll assume the worst. Smoking isn't as bad as cheating.
So I'm really successful at hiding it now. My brother knows I smoke, he does and he doesn't care that I do or doesn't say anything to me. Sometimes a pack a day! I can't believe it! I'd hate feeling horrible all the time.

I'd like to keep it at one a day or less for me. I don't want to be hooked but I do enjoy smoking from time to time.
You've written my story almost exactly! Bottom line: told the wife; now smoke in front of her but not the kids. She's OK with it. Sometimes she says "Maybe I'll start." but never does.
So the "good news" is that Ive more or less been able to cut back on my closet smoking these past few months to where I only need to smoke 5 or 6 cigarettes a day most days. Although I still think about wanting to smoke almost all of the time, at least this degree of cutting back has made my "hiding smoking" efforts, scrubbing hands and face, brushing teeth, use of strong cologne, etc much more successful on the whole.

Second, is that while I still havent exactly come outright to tell my wife "yes Im a closet smoker and have been for years", I have dropped one or two hints that I occasionally have a cigar or cigarette every so often when Im "out with the guys". The guys night is only once every other week, sometimes not even that often, but I figured its a start to letting her know. She didnt have any overly harsh reaction, just kinda said something like "yeah, I figured."

Both of these seem like fairly positive developments to me as a closet smoker - both smoking less, and therefore making it easier to hide, and also slowly, creeping my foot in the door to discuss the matter more frankly with my wife. Neither of these are perfect solutions, but they are the best Ive been able to come up with so far.

The only problem I see, is that not only do I not want to smoke less than the 5 to 6 cigarettes a day that I currently smoke, but I actively want to smoke much much more. I think about wanting to smoke more all the time. In fact, just last week my wife was out of town again, finally, on a week long trip to go see her family. Just always happens, my smoking shot straight through the roof while she was away. The day she left I smoked a whole pack, and tried to go to bed wanting to go buy another pack.  I laid there for an hour, thinking about how much I wanted more cigarettes and gave in. I slipped my wedding ring off, put on my loafers without socks, and headed to the convenience store down the street to buy cigarettes from the kinda-cute twilight girl who works there late at night. No, I never ever do or say anything bad or inappropriate towards her, and Im not even remotely thinking of cheating, but I cant help myself when I go to the convenience store and see that cute clerk girl out front finishing another cigarette before heading inside. I leave going there to buy only one extra pack of cigarettes for myself, but after seeing the cute clerk girl outside smoking, I feel like I just have to buy at least two packs from her. Last week I bought three packs from her. Always with cash, always with me sliding her the cash with my hand without the ring. Then Id do nothing, go home, and smoke maybe half of one of those packs.

The next day, Id go back to see if she was still there, tuesday evening she still was. As I saw her in the store window, walking up, I again slipped my ring off and kept it in my pocket. I didnt really need to buy any packs that day, but I wanted to. I wanted to buy more than I needed. So I just non-chalantly asked for three more packs. I could see in her convenience store shirt pocket where she had her cigarettes. I felt like I wished I was able to smoke that many for real, so I just bought that many because I could. I could have sworn that she smiled at me when she rung me up, but I did nothing other that smile back blankly. I tried to go back by that next Wednesday, and she wasnt there, off work that day apparently. So I bought no cigarettes. Then when I went back by last Thursday evening after work, I saw her again outside finishing another cigarette while at work. again I slid my ring off into my pocket before entering the store. Again I confidently ordered my three packs of cigarettes as if I was cool enough to pull that off. This time she commented quietly, asking with interest if I had been in earlier in the week buying three packs. I said yeah, it was probably me. I lied and said I was some kinda chain smoker, playing it off like a joke. Like I was cool. She just feigned a smile and said she understood. In my mind I thought there was an awkward silence, but I said nothing else, and just nodded my head dumbly before walking back to my car. I slid my ring back on as I drove out of the convenience store packing lot on my way back home.

What does that episode mean? In a way, I think it means nothing. It means I dont have the guts to ever do anything about cheating, even if I had the chance. Im ok with that, I wouldnt want to be a cheater. But what else does it mean? Does it mean I have some irrational fantasies linked to my desire to smoke? Yeah, maybe. But who doesnt. At least to some extent. Who doesnt think of themselves as just a little bit cooler when they smoke. It seems like teenagers certiantly do. Perhaps thats just it. Adults dont really think about smoking as a matter of cool, at least not actively. They just either are or are not smokers. For professional and social reasons I choose the Adult option of being a non-smoker, but I still have that teenage notion of cool lurking somewhere beneath that makes me desire it. I dont think thats entirely it, it doesnt seem to be enough explaination, but maybe thats part of it. Certianly the fact that the cigarette smoke can in fact be calming, that has to be part of it too. The addictive chemicals and additives in the smoke have to be part of it too. But I think one poster was right when she said it was more than just a chemical addiction, it was psychological.
Hi. All of your stories are very interesting and I fear I will have similar troubles in the future. I am 18 and do not smoke, but I have loved smoking for years. I have always wanted to smoke, loved the smell of it, the image apparently, and the few times when I have smoked it was excellent. More than anything I would like to smoke up to a few cigarettes a day and leave it at that, but I'm afraid I won't be able to. I smoked pot for a short time (always preferring joints/blunts over pipes/bongs) mostly to remedy the apparent psychological effects of my urges, but had to quit because it brought back my anxiety issues with a vengeance. I am not currently medicated for anxiety, but that will probably change in the next few weeks. I often have anxiety attacks as a reaction to drugs (and may hopefully have the same reaction to nicotine forcing me to give up the dream) and fear that if I start smoking a small amount, I will still have anxiety type withdrawals full force and have to start smoking even more. I don't want to smoke any more than I did before I had ever smoked (which is still quite a lot) but I'm afraid of the anxiety.

Mostly my whole family smokes/has smoked at least on my dads side, and many of them died from it. Addiction is strong in my family and my father for example has to stay entirely sober and eat nicotine gum daily while also balancing some mild anti-anxiety/depression meds that I will likely have to start taking. I understand that most of my urge is psychological (actually all of it) but psychological urges can be strong as well.

I understand the health risks and don't care much for some reason except for the withdrawal symptoms. In fact, the only reason I have not started is because my girlfriend HATES smoking more than anything. I am worried that if we break up, I will start. I probably will.

And I have to be honest the main reason I found this page and began writing this post is because I was looking for an excuse to start smoking some. I have to say.. I'm worried

You have to be careful what you wish for, you might just get it - along with all the baggage that comes with addiction to nicotine. I remember when I was younger, really wishing to be grown up enough to smoke cigarettes. Im sure there was alot more to it than that, but that was part of it.

First, I was smoking afterschool in middle school, then smoking more when in high school, then before I knew it I was so hopelessly addicted that I didnt even know what to do about it.

If you think you have the strength to not start smoking, then I suggest you try to stay quit or not start in the first place. If your girlfriend hates smoking, then hopefully thats a good enough reason for you to hold off before its gets any worse.  Best of luck to you!
Hey Jimmy -

Your situation is very similar to mine - although I'm a bit older than you... not sure if you'll ever actually SEE this but I figured I'd chime in anyway...

Let me say that I too was a closeted smoker for many years - so I can forgoe the detail we all find in common - the alcove, the rituals, washings, gum, lying, etc... all the multitudes of things we have to go thru in order to continue smoking.  I know them well... but a few things you noted caught my attention:

You said that in some way that you 'desire to desire smoking' - and while I understand how that might confuse many... I for one know precisely what you're driving at - as I've often considered it myself.  I wondered - if tic tacs were addictive, would I intentionally become addicted to them in order to occassionally feel the gratification that comes with temporarily satisfying the urges associated with an addictive substance?  I might - after all, compared to cigarettes they're cheap, healthy, socially acceptable & give you great breath!  Still - most of the reason cigarettes provide such relief is because we usually spend enough time in between them to build up such cravings thru withdrawl (withdrawal), especially for the closeted smoker - so that once we DO indulge... we get our 'ahhhh' moment.  So I suppose we'd have to find the willpower to abstain long enough between doses to go INTO sufficient withdrawl (withdrawal) from tic tacs such that we would really enjoy relieving that misery by popping one - otherwise, we're kind of just popping tic tacs throughout the day just to get to the same place we were before we intentionally got addicted to tic tacs in the first place...  So when you think of it - having to go without cigarettes can really suck, right?  Boy, escpecially when you were certain you'd have a golden opportunity that got foiled at the last minute - am I right???  It's pretty miserable - and the only thing really that can relieve that misery, is of course another cigarette.  So here's the question - where does 'enjoyment' begin & relieving misery end?

Here's another hypothetical that I've considered which ties into another of your observations - suppose I had the option to disable my primal urges as they relate to food & sex - would I do it?  Hmm... I might - after all, it'd certainly help for weight control - and maybe give me better assurances I'd not cheat on my spouse.  After all, it's not like I'd cease 'enjoying' those things right?  Well.... let's think about that for a moment.  On second thought, I'm guessing that food & sex would probably not be nearly as 'enjoyable' without those urges - those deep cravings... It's an interesting albeit odd correlation isn't it?  Food, sex - cigarettes?  Well, without getting all too scientific on you - it turns out that nicotine does actually play a neat little trick on us in that it sort of piggy backs - or even hijacks the very same areas of the brains associated with primal urges such as hunger & sex.  Embarrassing as this is to admit, for ME - cigarettes were very sexual... and judging by the many 'smoking fetish' videos & websites out there - at least I can say I'm far from alone... After all, there are phalic components to cigarettes - naughty aspects (especially for closet smokers) - and it's wrapped in oral theatre.  The obvious truth is that smoking, hunger & sex have always been closely linked... we just weren't sure why until relatively recently.  And think about it, many people over-eat despite being otherwise intelligent beings well aware of the damage - many people engage in sexual activity they know to be dangerous, even illegal yet they seem drawn, almost compelled to continue.  So when you asked 'what does this episode mean'?  Well, as you already know - even without need to mention her being cute, watching her smoking or you popping off your ring - it's sexual - and that's not actually all too surprising in the proper context.  And of course, we ALL know about the many health hazards of smoking - and yet we continue... Hunger & lust, well frankly - they are survival mechanisms that kept our ancestors alive for hundreds of thousands of years - frankly, they've only really become burdensome in relatively recent times due to specific aspects of modern civilization - namely, an abundance of food supply & relational/familial complications relating to multiple sexual partners.  Smoking, on the other hand - or more specfically nicotine simply found a way - or more accurately, happened upon a way to latch on to those mechanisms thru it's uniquely addictive properties...

Do yourself a favor - look up a guy by the name of Allen Carr (sp?) - he's got a unique approach to quitting that doesn't focus on the many reasons we already know about why NOT to smoke - health, cost, smell, etc... Instead, he focuses on the actual DESIRE to smoke - and makes you think, really think about what it is you think you get from smoking.  It's interesting because I had successfully quit for 8 months a few years back - I 'did it for my daughter' when she was born... used willpower to resist - you know the drill.  This classic model to quitting presumes that if you can just have enough tenacity to not smoke for a period of time, you'll eventually cross some finish line & be free.  The problem with that approach is that - according to this Carr guy, if you really believe NOT smoking is some kind of sacrifice - honorable though it may be - that you're giving up some pleasure, some joy for the sake of health or a loved one, etc... then 1 of 2 outcomes will occur - you either spend the rest of your days wishing you could smoke, or you eventually do as I did - break at some weak (or drunk) moment & go back to smoking... but - leaving all the dangers, the spouse, all of that aside -  if you can open your mind & be really honest about what exactly you feel makes you enjoy smoking vs the enjoyment you might experience while not smoking - I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by what you discover...

I've stopped smoking my friend - about a month ago... honestly, it came out of nowhere because a neighbor had convinced my wife to sign us up for life insurance.  I was in a mad panic to stall the medical exam, which I managed to do for about 17 days without smoking before the test was administered - should be enough according to what I've read... gum won't hide lab results you know... and instead of finally reaching the end of that barren desert to finally find my precious smoking alcove oasis ready to indulge in my own stolen moment of joy - I decided I didn't want to do it - not because of my wife, my kids, the cost, the smell... I actually enjoyed my life more without it.  And you know what?  I don't crave it - I don't miss it - man, I don't WANT it - and am so incredibly grateful to that tenacious ******* of a neighbor who kept pushing life insurance on me... although he'll never know ;)  My life is so much more peaceful, so much less stressful - frankly, I enjoy everything a bit more & don't have to deal with that nightmare ever, ever again...

Think about that my man - and take care of yourself...
I thought I was safe from asthma and COPD because I avoided prolonged contact with 2nd hand smoke but I developed asthma as an adult.  I would stand around air conditioners thinking I was safe from the smoke but I need to use inhalers every day.
you should really quit smoking and save yourselves from terrible suffering from asthma/respiratory infections
Wow, I know this is an older thread, but I just met a secret smoker guy who works in my building. He was sneaking a cigarette out back before heading into work, while I was outside finishing up my third cig in a row in my usual routine. I visited with him about it some and he invited me to lunch.

When talking to him about it, I had no idea that there were so many secret closet smokers out there. But you are definitely not alone. There are probably tens of thousands of secret smokers out there, who would have been open about it maybe 20 or so years ago, but feel discriminated against these days.

Remember that Friends episode where Chandler was always trying to sneak cigarettes? Ok, maybe that was more than one episode, but my lunch date mentioned it and I thought it was funny because I remembered it.

For whatever its worth, my lunch date secret closet smoker guy said he totally envied me for being an open smoker. I almost laughed, because Im like, hopelessly addicted to nicotine and still smoke like three packs a day, sometimes more. Its pretty pathetic really, but besides the point. He said he really wished he could smoke like a normal person, although maybe not quite so much as me, he said he'd like maybe a pack a day.

I thought it was odd, because as someone whos struggled so much with nicotine addiction, and I mean severe nicotine addiction, I both cannot imagine life without cigarettes, but also cannot imagine why someone would want to do that to themselves, knowing whats in store. Im not criticising smokers, because I love smoking, its just a curious place to be mentally.

Anyways, I think if you can get by smoking 5 cigarettes a day then great for you. The health consequences to that have to be minimal. If you want to smoke more, then smoke more. I think your spouse or significant other will understand. If you want to smoke less, thats fine too.

I also think its ok if you want to continue to be a secret smoker living in the closet. Itd probably be tough to smoke more than 5 a day, or maybe 10, and stay in the closet forever, but its really whatever your comfortable with.

In a weird way, I think its like Gays coming out of the closet. Im not Gay, but I have friends who are. Some are still in the closet for work or family reasons. To me, that seems sad, because I think they should be able to say and be who they are without feeling ashamed, but for them, they feel more comfortable with the privacy. And I can respect that. Its their private business, and they can do whatever works for them.

You can too.
There is such an overwhelming social stigma surrounding smoking I too --when I worked-- definitely hid my smoking but tired of the constant worry that I would be caught or the pain of the unrelenting smell giving me away.  A non-smokers virgin nose always picks it up.  You are not alone-- lots of people hide, just walk down the alleys or in doorways along the street.  So many people are hiding.  I used to envy the ones who smoke out in the open at work I was too chicken to do that.  I would go in the back alley to smoke at work.  Once I was in the department store near my job.  Standing at the corner I began to smell cigarette smoke.  (I had recently quit for a short period).  I thought someone was smoking in the store.  Surprised, I turned and looked about me for the nervy smoking, turns out it was one of my back alley comrades who had just walked in from outdoors!!  Who hadn't even passed by me yet!!  The smoke odor preceded her!!  I was like, wow.  If I could smoke and not be deluged by the inconvenient odor. But no way.
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