There is a break room where all employees have their lunch/break. It has a smoking area. I am a smoker and I usually take my smoking breaks in that place.

My boss's boss, call him BigBoss, is an old man. He is a very nice person. We usually have small chats here and there whenever we cross paths around the department. So he remembers my face very well.

He is always in the common area at lunch time. He once saw me coming back in from my smoking break, so he stopped me and spent around 3 mins telling me how bad smoking is, and that he lost lovely people because of it (cancer) and that he was a smoker and quit, and that it feels much better not to smoke.

After that 3 mins conversation, he saw me again coming back from the smoking area. This time, another employee was with me who does not usually smokes unless I am around. BigBoss stopped us, and told my coworker about how bad smoking is.

Since then, I did not go to that smoking area especially on the lunch time in hope that I stop giving a bad impression. But, I noticed that he ignores me now. Especially that he saw me smoking after he lectured me about it. Now, whenever we cross paths, he does not open chats anymore.

Can I tell/show him that I "quit" smoking without actually quitting? I just no longer do it around here and I want my clean face back.

  • 14
    Do you think BigBoss will think worse of you for being a smoker, or for being a smoker and lying about it, because he probably will find out? Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 17:23
  • This sounds like you're asking for our help to lie to your boss's boss. That doesn't seem like a good idea.
    – dwizum
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 17:25
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    I'll add to what @JoeStrazzere said: unless you actually quit, don't claim that you have. Just because you don't think you smell like smoke doesn't mean you don't smell like smoke. It's pretty obvious to a non-smoker. Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 22:48
  • 15
    As a former smoker, when my sense of smell came back, I was blown away by how strong the smell of cigarette smoke is. Believe me, you arent fooling anyone by telling them you dont smoke. Even if you dont smoke around someone, the smell of smoke is on your body and especially your clothes. My clothes stank of cigarette smoke, even after many washes. Even clothes I hadnt worn in years still had a faint smell of smoke.
    – Keltari
    Commented Dec 23, 2018 at 13:00
  • 8
    +1 to what Keltari said. For non-smokers the reek of smoke everywhere a smoker goes is disgusting and your lie will be caught after 1 second when 5 meters away from you. BigBoss will never trust you again if you lied about quitting. Commented Dec 24, 2018 at 9:12

5 Answers 5


You can't and you shouldn't. Unless you actually quit, you can only hide it for so long. Intentionally misleading you boss's boss is a bad idea. When (not if) you get found out, you will look even worse than you do now. In his mind, you will now be a smoker and a liar.

While he shouldn't treat you differently for being a smoker, he would certainly be within his rights to treat you differently because you are a liar. If your management chain can not trust you, you have a very limited future.

  • 1
    +1 Great job making the connection to lying and how that would affect your business appearance to not only BigBoss but other management as well
    – Rich B
    Commented Jan 7, 2019 at 22:06

You're going to find it hard to fool him. It's usually possible to tell if someone smokes by the way they smell. Smokers usually don't notice, but nonsmokers can, and ex-smokers are likely to be even more sensitive.

If you're willing to seriously try to quit, you could probably ask him for some advice, and that should get him liking you again. Don't do this unless you're going to give it a real try. Your boss's boss is likely to pick up on it, having been through it himself.

Don't try to pretend you've quit or are trying. It's likely not to work, and then you're a dishonest smoker.


Don't hide it, as it is very obvious to anyone who has either smoked, or lived with smokers.

The smell can never be hidden completely. There are other signs such as the smoker's cough and the deepening of the voice that happens over time, the affects on the skin, including the lines that form around the mouth as a result of the act of taking a drag.

We can all see them and those of us who have lost people to smoking do carry a bit of anger with us.

He probably does care about you, and if he is indeed nice, it likely hurts him a bit. Don't hide what you do, or he will find out and he will feel like you're deceiving him.
Again, those of us who have lived with and lost people can spot smokers easily. Don't hide it.

Now, should you need help quitting, you may mention that to him. I'm sure he'd be relieved to hear that. But, only do that if you really are quitting.

Good luck


What about instead of saying that you quit, say you are trying your best to quit after listening to him. No one can quit smoking right away. He will understand and support you all the way. You said you no longer smoke around the lunch area. This will be noticeable to him and he will realize the difference. Just say you are decreasing the amount you smoke with the goal of quitting all together and thank him for convincing you to attempt quitting.

  • 1
    Lying does not seem like a good idea.
    – Cypher
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 18:41
  • 1
    @Cypher don't think you can prove or disprove he's attempting to quit or not so he will only be lying to himself. Better than having your boss judge you/ not talk to you imo.
    – Ricky Kim
    Commented Dec 21, 2018 at 18:55
  • Actually, you CAN quit smoking right away, but you MAY need some assistance. There are two parts to a smoking "habit", the nicotine chemistry and the belief systems around the habit. Nicotine chemistry generally takes less than 24 hours to clear completely from the body after you put out that last cigarette. Once the chemistry has cleared, all that is left to feed the cravings are belief systems: you BELIEVE that you need a cigarette in these conditions. Hypnotists routinely help people change beliefs, in one session, but the session MUST be individualized to the particular client. Commented Jan 8, 2019 at 20:17

He is a very nice person.

No he's not, he's a bigot. Recognise the fact and avoid being seen smoking by him if you want, but don't tell lies.


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