Jerry O’Connell: Rebecca Romijn told me she wouldn’t touch me until I quit smoking

The Talk dealt with the Juul product ban the other day. During the discussion, Jerry O’Connell admitted that he smoked for 20 years, having started in high school. Like many people of his generation, his parents smoked. The image of his mom, sitting on the phone, smoking and chatting was forefront in his mind. When he met his wife Rebecca Romijn, they were both smokers. Although they both agreed to quit to start a family, Rebecca quit immediately while Jerry struggled for years, sneaking outside for a smoke to keep it away from their daughters. It wasn’t until Rebecca vowed not to touch him again that Jerry finally broke the habit for good. According to Jerry, it took a month of not being touched, but he finally prioritized his family over his cigarettes.

Nicotine, it’s the toughest thing to get off of. It’s near impossible. I know Juul is being accused of targeting kids. In my day it was another brand of cigarettes where they used a cartoon character. Unfortunately I smoked for many years. I smoked a lot. Quitting was the toughest thing that I’ve ever done.

I met my wife, we were smoking ciggies. Then we were going to start a family and my wife poof stopped. I couldn’t stop. We had kids and I was running outside [to smoke]. My wife one day said to me ‘I don’t want that smell in my house.’ My wife said ‘I’m not touching you until you quit.’ After about a month of not being touched…

The real problem was I started smoking at a young age, when I was in high school. It got me in high school. If it hadn’t got me in high school I wouldn’t have had that close to 20 year struggle.

The second I accepted that the cravings never went away [I was able to quit]. It really helped me to not have a cigarette coming up on ten years.

[From YouTube via SOMG]

I know how hard it is to quit smoking, I really do. I’m sure it was a big struggle for Jerry. And everyone applauded him for his dedication to his daughters and quitting. But I can’t help but think: what if the roles were reversed here? If Rebecca had resumed smoking after their birth and snuck out for smokes until her husband cut her off, she would’ve been crucified. Mom-shamers – hell, The Talk co-hosts – would’ve shouted her down about why weren’t her babies enough to make her quit? But women don’t get any grace period when it comes to parenting. Don’t get me wrong – Jerry and Rebecca are adorable together and she’s a genius for this. I’m just saying, it wouldn’t be a cute story for the chat show circuit if it was a mom telling this story instead of a dad.

I like what Jerry said about accepting the inevitable about the cravings. That doesn’t happen for everyone. Some people quit and never think about it again. Some of us, like Jerry and myself, just have to accept that cigarettes will forever be a breakup we’ll never get over. Starting young, as Jerry said, is a huge issue. That’s why the crackdown on Juul and other brands that target kids is so important. I had my first cigarette at 10. Sheryl Underwood also said something that was huge during the segment, she talked about the communal experience of smoking, especially after states banned smoking indoors. At the office, the smokers would grab each other and head out for a smoke break. As Sheryl pointed out, we got more breaks than the non-smokers as a result. But it was a mental health moment too. Those few minutes away from my desk were almost as important as the nicotine. As a non-smoker, I never step away from my stupid desk. Sometimes the routines are as hard to break as the addiction. So my advice (if cold turkey hasn’t worked) is to break those routines (or find alternatives) first, and then quit the cigarettes (or vapes). It’ll make it easier.

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Photo credit: Instagram, Getty Images and Avalon Red

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16 Responses to “Jerry O’Connell: Rebecca Romijn told me she wouldn’t touch me until I quit smoking”

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  1. smegmoria says:

    The absolute best part of quitting smoking is the hair! Your hair always smells like cigarettes.

    • Carol Mengel says:

      I started smoking in college and smoked for 30 years. Only gave it up twice for nine months when I was pregnant. My husband, a non-snoker used to say my hair and clothes smelled gross. I gave it up cold turkey. But when I pass someone on the street smoking, gotta admit, it still smell good.

      • smegmoria says:

        Yeah…. sometimes cig smoke smells like it did in high school.

      • Jessica says:

        I quit about 10 years ago and I only love the smell when I’m drinking, I’ll go stand near the smokers and inhale all that yummy second hand smoke! But yeah I don’t miss it in my hair, and it will hold that smell for days now, maybe I’m more sensitive to it though. I can’t believe I ever thought I was hiding it with hand washing and perfume, lol.

  2. CocoBean says:

    I got lucky that I never smoked a cigarette until I was 27 so it was easy to quit a few years later. The hard part was missing out on the socialization that happened around smoking. That was the best part!

    A good friend of mine, who now lives in Spain, is pregnant with her first and trying to quit. It’s so hard because she’s been smoking for over 20 years, since she was a teen. She’s down to two, half cigs a day and been honest with her dr who said it’s better than the pack+ she was smoking pre-pregnancy. Hopefully she’ll be down to none very, very soon. It’s so true that the younger you start, the harder it is to quit. They go after kids because there’s a higher chance you’ll be a lifer.

    • manda says:

      Omg, you are so right about the socialization part. I was just commenting at a wedding this weekend that we always have a ton of fun chatting with whoever’s in the smoking section!

      • CocoBean says:


        Totally! I have this amazing picture from the smoking section at a wedding years ago. Giving that up was so hard! I even smoked e-cigs for a year after quitting the real thing just so I could go socialize with friends during smoke breaks. Now I can’t stand the smell of any of it, way worse than before I ever smoked.

    • MrsBanjo says:

      I don’t smoke, but my mom was a heavy smoker. When she was pregnant with me (over 40 years ago), her doctor told her not to quit entirely during the pregnancy, but to try and cut back as severely as possible, because of the possible effects on her mental health from quitting so abruptly. She was able to go from 2 packs to about 5 cigarettes a day. But it was really hard. I can imagine what your friend is going through.

      • CocoBean says:


        You’re totally right about the mental health aspect. It is just so addictive that it can put your body and mind into free fall when you quit suddenly.

        My friend was stressing about not being able to quit completely and I told her she’ll get there. She’s done a great job cutting back as much as she has and to not come down so hard on herself because the anxiety isn’t helping either!

  3. Jessica says:

    I think accepting the cravings is a huge part. I always assumed when people quit they eventually stopped wanting to smoke, but nope. You have to deal with them every single day on some level, even for me 10 years later, but it’s mostly when I drink, which is part of why I don’t drink often because I hate craving them so strongly. I thought the same thing about working out, that people were always motivated and enjoyed it, but I realized I’m rarely motivated and I can’t wait for that feeling, I just have to get off my ass and work out and the endorphins will eventually kick in.

    My parents smoked as well, in the house, the car, and it was in restaurants, the mall, even the hospital back in the 80’s, so the second I smoked my first cigarette at 15 my body was already hooked. My biggest regret in life is smoking, just don’t do it kids.

    • MariaT says:

      I could have written this! When I had my first cig at 16, I was like “Oh, there you are.” It took me 20 years to quit and then kept falling off the wagon sporadically (in fact, after each baby, I picked it back up, I think because I needed the escape!). It wasn’t until I gave up alcohol entirely a couple of years ago that I was able to quit for good. I still crave them. I always will probably. But life is so much better – in all ways – without them, so am able to shoo the cravings away fairly easily.

      • Jessica says:

        Oh man, I think the best cigarette I’ve ever had was after I got home from the hospital after giving birth, lol. And yes I agree, it’s about the few minutes you get to escape outside and take a little break from life.

        This is making me miss it!

  4. Cecil says:

    My grandparents have a very similar story to Jerry and Rebecca’s, but a little bit reversed They started a family, and my grandfather convinced my grandmother to quit (she didn’t want to; this was the 60s), but only my grandmother could make it work immediately. My grandfather continued smoking for probably another five years, before he could kick it for good! She was so mad, but she didn’t take it up again! It just takes different time frames for different people. But I’ll never forget my grandmother saying that she never really had cravings other than every night after dinner. Every night.

    On another note, the UK show Love Island had to ban group smoking on the show after non smokers began smoking. Now, if the contestants want to smoke, they have to go smoke one by one outside, instead of congregating together to smoke and chat. They also stopped showing it on TV. This isn’t an old show either! This was probably three or four years ago that they made the change! The social aspect is very very real.

  5. duchessL says:

    I smoke about 20 years to, quit while pregnant and months after the pregnancies. Always got back to it. But one day, I snapped and said enough. Never touched it again and I have no cravings – now im disgusted by it. My husband still smokes, I will try Rebecca’s strategy and I just got nicotine tests from amazon. lol

    p.s. whenever I see those 2 on a pic making a post – I get nervous that they might have announced a breakup. These 2 cannot split. I love them since Rebecca arranged a surprise makeover for Jerry on Oprah.

  6. Anna says:

    I need to confess because it’s so stupid: I started smoking during the pandemic and lockdown. At the rosy age of 52. First it was something to do to punctuate the never ending days. Then it was a way to justify a break. Went to visit my sister who would disavow me in a second if she knew I touch the thing. Didn’t use the stuff for the entire 2 months while there. Came back home, re- started one evening while bored…

  7. Bread and Circuses says:

    I knew that with heroin addiction, the cravings drop off enormously over the first few months and years, but that they never truly go away. I had no idea that happened with nicotine addiction too!