How to tell someone they reek of cig smoke?

I sat thru a business meeting today with a potential vendor of IT services. He’s the owner of his business and he attended a 16 week entrepreneurial training program for existing businesses that had already met a certain degree of success, along with the owner of my employer. As soon as he walked in today I noticed he reeked of smoke (the level of someone who probably smokes in his car rather than outdoors only). I had a major headache all thru the meeting and for many hours later.

My employer wants me to explore working with him to develop a relationship regarding his company potentially replacing our IT vendor (which relationship I presently manage). I really like the guy and would love to explore more. But I don’t like the smoke off-gassing/odor and its affects on me.

I broached the subject with my boss after the guy left. He noticed also of course. I joked that I think since he has a prior relationship with the guy where everyone got to know each other and their businesses intimately, that if anyone was going to have discussions with the guy about it, that it should be him. He didn’t agree apparently. So no resolution there.

How does one handle this type of situation where you might really like to work with someone but there’s this big thing in the way. I don’t see it as simple as, for instance, my saying to him I’m sensitive to perfumes and colognes (true also) which I would have no problem doing. But to me this is different as this level of smoke smell suggests someone who smokes indoors in a car and/or at home, and to change that smell is a much bigger ask.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Beyond my working with my thoughts about it, if you were needing to work with a vendor/business owner and had this issue, how would you handle it?

Gracias Brooke!