This paper uses family systems concepts and the Family FIRO model to show how cigarette smoking occurs in the context of the important relationships in a smoker's life. Specifically, smoking is viewed as a way a person is included in relationships, is in control in relationships, and perhaps is intimate in relationships. When smoking is well‐established in the relationship, predictable interaction patterns surround it. When a person tries to quit or succeeds in quitting, these patterns change and may need to be replaced by nonsmoking alternatives. Partners may respond with support and willingness to create alternative patterns, or with undermining behavior stemming from a perceived threat to the established patterns. The model is offered for its heuristic value in guiding research and clinical experimentation. The paper also describes implications for family therapists as consultants to smoking‐cessation programs.