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Actor Livid After His Asthmatic Girlfriend Won’t Come To See His Play With Smoking On Stage

Man smoking cigarette
Eugenio Marongiu/Getty Images

Many artists start off as hobbyists first so that they can support themselves, so when a break – big or small – comes along, it can be a huge deal.

Redditor needtobreatheaita’s boyfriend is an amateur actor who just landed his first lead role.

But the Original Poster (OP) just discovered the play requires the actors to smoke actual cigarettes on stage.

The OP has asthma, so now she can’t see her boyfriend shine.

This dilemma led her to subReddit “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA).

She asked,

“AITA For not attending a play that my BF is in because there is smoking in it”

She went on to explain.

“My BF [27-year-old Male] and I [26-year-old Female] have been dating for 2 years. He works full time but he’s also an amateur actor, which is his true passion.”

“I’ve seen him in a couple small community plays since we’ve been dating, but he’s always had smaller parts.”

“Recently, he landed a leading role in a play put on by a much larger local production company and I couldn’t be happier or more proud of him. He’s very excited about it too, obviously.”

“They’ve been rehearsing 3-4 nights a week for almost a month now and opening night is set for 3 weeks from this coming Friday.”

“He’s been working his butt off and I can tell how much this means to him. But I started noticing that he was coming home from rehearsals reeking of cigarette smoke.”

“Now, my BF doesn’t smoke and if he did we wouldn’t be together because I have severe asthma and smoking is a huge trigger.”

“So, I asked him about it and he said that some of his castmates smoke, but that there is also smoking in the play.”

“He said the director wants to be as authentic to the source material as possible and some of the characters smoke cigarettes throughout the play.”

“I honestly didn’t even think that sort of thing was allowed anymore, but apparently our state allows indoor smoking if it’s part of a play or performance as long as there are written statements on any advertising and promotions.”

“I asked my BF how much smoking is in the play and he said it’s not constant, but it’s quite prevalent.”

“I asked him if they plan to have any performances that are smoke-free and he said not that he’s aware of.”

“I asked him if that’s something he could talk to the director about and he said it’s not his place to question the creative vision of a director.”

“I told him if that’s the case, I won’t be able to come watch it because of my asthma.”

“He immediately got defensive and starting trying to reason with me by saying that the theatre is pretty big and well-ventilated and he doesn’t care if I sit way in the back as far from the stage as possible, he just wants me to be there.”

“I told him I can’t risk jeopardizing my health and that it’s not my fault that his director is so behind the times that they are putting on a play that allows for indoor smoking.”

“It’s 2023, why is that even a thing anymore?”

“I told him that I would obviously come support him if there wasn’t smoking involved, but I can’t risk damaging my lungs.”

“I told him that I would of course come and watch the next play he’s in and he snapped,”

“‘But what if there isn’t another play? What if this is the last leading role I get? Tomorrow is promised to nobody and this means a lot to me and it would mean even more for you to be there.’”

“I told him he’s being dramatic and that my long-term health is more important to me than a play.”

“I do feel bad that I won’t be able to see him act in his first leading role, but it’s not worth it to me to be around indoor smoking for 2 hours.”


Redditors weighed in by declaring:

    • NTA – Not The A**hole
    • YTA – You’re The A**hole
    • NAH – No A**holes Here
    • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors decided:

“Honestly, I struggle to imagine a situation where a few people smoking on stage would create enough smoke that it could trigger someone’s asthma in the back row.”

“I’m not saying it’s impossible, but if you can walk around in public without constant asthma attacks, you can tolerate a freaking theater production like this.”

“‘I told him he’s being dramatic and that my long-term health is more important to me than a play.’”

“It’s sad that you think so little of your BF’s weeks of hard work.”

“YTA. I mean, at least try to go. Bring a bunch of preparations, and if you start to get seriously worried, then step out.” – AbroadAgitated2740

“Nah. Sorry. I’ve been a stage manager for three decades. There are plenty of fakes that look really authentic these days. There’s absolutely no excuse to use real cigarettes anymore.” – obiwantogooutside

“I have asthma, and cigarette smoke is a trigger for me.”

“Yes, I’ll react to one person smoking across a large room when I don’t know that someone smoking there is even a possibility. When I have to go looking for the cause of my symptoms.”

“Asthma is a life-threatening condition that, unfortunately, nearly everyone who doesn’t have it takes way too lightly.”

“I’ve had to argue with doctors and nurses who tell me I’m “not even wheezing,” until they find out I’m not wheezing because I wasn’t moving enough air through my lungs to wheeze.”

“Do you understand how bad that is?”

“Probably not. But it’s bad.”

“Nothing, absolutely nothing, would induce me to deliberately go spend an evening where even one person was going to be smoking much of the time, never mind several.”

“ETA: NTA” – Ornery-Ad-4818


“Get a mask, N95, and wear it to the performance. Sit in the back.”

“During intermission, go outside away from other people, take off the mask & breathe fresh air.”

“Good Luck” – QuinGood

“Am I high? Have people voting Y T A never met asthmatics? Is this director out of his mind? As an asthmatic AND someone who’s done lots of community theatre, NTA” – badgerux

“NTA: Stage cigarettes do exist. I’m honestly surprised this is allowed.”

“I don’t have asthma, but I’m extremely sensitive to smells. I don’t think I could watch performance there. Even if it’s not that performance. Even with good ventilation, cigarette smell lingers.” – Formerretailmom


“I’ve been involved in ( mostly) community theatre for over 20 years. There are VERY realistic prop cigarettes available.”

“Smoking actual real anything is prohibited due to fire codes and updated health codes.”

“I find it bizarre that this is even allowed. If you could do some research, find out what the local codes are for indoor smoking.” – floorgunk

“I’m going to get downvoted for this but NTA.”

“I am an asthmatic performer. I understand his excitement regarding a lead role.”

“I am set off by just a drift of smoke into my home via the window if someone is smoking, grilling, or burning outside.”

“It doesn’t matter how large the venue is. There is the likelihood I will be set off by cigarette smoke rather quickly.”

“Most likely, even “stage cigarettes” that burn cloves or something would set me off. So, I understand your stance on this.”

“On the other, I would personally attempt sitting by an exit and wearing a mask to see my hubby perform; however, I understand not wanting to take the risk.”

“Oh, and for an asthma attack, the smell of cigarette from clothing is very different than inhaling cigarette smoke even in very small amounts.”

“I don’t understand why he won’t use a vape pen or something. You can have the appearance of smoke but it won’t go nearly as far, and you can find ones that look a lot like cigarettes.”

“Edit: spelling” – LadyMuse20

“YTA. Sit in the back and wear and smoke-filtering mask. This is clearly really important to him, and if I was in your shoes, that’s what I would do.” – proteomicsguru

“NTA. I volunteer with a professional repertory company.”

“They had an actor smoking on stage a single production years ago and vowed to never do that again because there were so many complaints from audience members.”

“People were leaving at intermission because they couldn’t stand the smell. My hair and clothes reeked after every performance, and I was sitting in the back of the audience.”

“And that’s without any concerns for asthma. You shouldn’t have to risk real health complications for your boyfriend’s hobby. It’s ok to miss this one.” – mpjjpm

“Theater professional here, there is such a thing as stage cigarettes that this Director should definitely be looking into as opposed to actual nicotine cigarettes.”

“Not sure if that will help your asthma concern, but this is a pretty dumb problem to have in the first place, and that’s not your fault.” – Jazzlike_Customer629

“NTA! I don’t think everyone else in this Reddit understands how severe and reactive asthma can be.”

“Smoke is a major trigger, and I can understand why she would not want to go. Considering it affects her breathing and she would be the one to suffer … I think she has a right to choose” – Justbeoptimistic1234

Hopefully, the director will come to their senses and close the curtain on this issue.

Written by B. Miller

B. is a creative multihyphenate who enjoys the power and versatility of the written word. She enjoys hiking, great food and drinks, traveling, and vulnerable conversation. Raised below the Mason Dixon, thriving above it. (she/her)