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NEW YORK (MainStreet) — The stigma of using the Internet to date and hopefully find a mate is gone, as 11% of Americans have used an online dating site or app in the past year, according to the Pew Internet and Life Project and nearly 35% of all marriages in the U.S. started with an online date, says Santa Monica, Calif.-based IBIS World.

But relationships that start online may never get real if you engage in certain turn-off habits that have your date uttering those fateful words — "Check, please."

A study from and Pfizer shows that, by a wide margin, smoking remains a stigma for most potential romantic partners you meet online: 89% of study respondents say they would not date someone who smokes, and 51% said "lighting up" on a first date is unacceptable — followed by constantly checking a phone (45%) and showing up late (40%).

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But it's smoking that really burns up a potential date.

"Our survey revealed fascinating information. Just as many smokers trying to quit look forward to not having 'smokers breath' in intimate situations as they do breathing better, the key to finding love starts with feeling great about yourself," says Bela Gandhi, a relationship expert. "Achieving anything big in life, like quitting smoking or finding love, requires making a plan and sticking to it."

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There is some concern from anti-nicotine respondents, with 78% saying they are worried about the "long-term health" of their date, but many object to smoking for more personal reasons:

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  • 80% don't want the smell of smoke in their homes or cars.
  • 78% are reluctant to kiss a smoker.
  • 75% don't want the smell of cigarettes on their clothes.

The study notes that smoking is the leading cause of premature death in the U.S., with 45 million Americans continuing to turn to so-called "cancer sticks."

Perhaps they wouldn't if they realized not just that 1,205 Americans die every day from smoking-related causes, but that their chances of finding love online is significantly reduced if smoking is a habit.

— By Brian O'Connell