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I am currently on holiday and met an older married couple here. I had a little talk today with the husband, and he told me that his wife had a stroke and just started smoking again. And he is definitely not happy about that. Late that day, his wife asked me if I could lend her a cigarette. She didn't want to get her own at the moment - that would probably lead to an argument with her husband.

This brought me into an awkward situation. On the one hand I can understand why she wants to smoke. But I don't want to support it, regarding her health situation.

But most importantly: I don't want to get into an argument with her or her husband. They are really nice people, and I am scared of burning any bridges.

How to react in such a situation declining her request?

Edit:

I did decline it, saying something like, that I don't want to stand in between her and her husband. But it is possible that she will ask me again and I'd like to be better prepared then.

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    Hi Yannjoel! What did you do today? Did you decline (if so, how) or give her a cigarette? Can you explain which of the two you want to do, decline or accept the request? We can't make that decision for you, sadly. There's also this related question on declining similar requests for cigarettes from hospitalized people: How can I get my sister to stop asking me to help her smoke?, though the OP of that question didn't smoke themselves. Did you carry any cigarettes while visiting? – Tinkeringbell May 6 at 17:52
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    Thank you for your fast response! She knows that I am smoking and came to my van in which i have all my stuff including my cigarettes – Yannjoel May 6 at 18:00
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    Well, you're not slow yourself either! How did she react when you declined? Anything that made you afraid she'd start an argument next time? – Tinkeringbell May 6 at 18:04
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    She definitely wasn't happy about it but didn't get angry. Later I saw her walking away from her camping car after an argument with her husband, which seemed to be very emotional. That's why it soundly likely for me, that she will ask me again, later or at another day – Yannjoel May 6 at 18:09
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Tell her what you told us. I don't want support it, regarding her health situation this is exactly what you should tell her. Even though she decides to keep smoking (which is her right to do so), you don't want to support it due to her health conditions. Tell her that you don't feel good supporting her decision.

Depending on her personality, she might already take the hint to not ask you again, but in the case she asks again, state the exact same thing, and add that you don't want her to ask you again, because your answer wont change.

Something along these lines should be appropriate:

Hi, your husband mentioned that you had a stroke recently. Though it is your decision to keep smoking, I can't support that decision with a good feeling myself. That is why I won't give you any cigarettes, as I am not feeling good doing so.

If she doesn't take the hint directly and asks again, then this is appropriate:

Hi. As I mentioned last time you asked me, I don't feel comfortable giving you cigarettes due to your health condition. Please stop asking me for any cigarettes.

Yes she won't be happy, yes she might get angry, but that is not because of you, it is because of her not respecting your decision.

You might have better chances to tell her all this, if she is not craving for a smoke at the moment. So I would suggest to talk to her shortly after she had smoke.


Source: similar situation with elder family member. Sent him to get cigarettes on his own.

  • I'm curious how your relatives reacted when you did tell them that. Did they take the hint immediately? – avazula May 7 at 11:45
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    They were pissed at first since they were craving for a cigarette, but could understand my point after they got their smoke – XtremeBaumer May 7 at 11:47

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