Smoking etiquette

What do you know about tobacco smoking etiquette? I’ve been curious about this recently. I don’t smoke (regularly, anyway–I’ll just say that I don’t buy cigarettes, and I don’t smoke frequently enough that buying cigs would be worthwhile), but I’ve been curious about this. I guess I’ll throw in the ones I can think of (they’re open to debate, BTW, if anyone wants to challenge them):

  1. If someone asks for a cigarette and you have one, give them one–they’re pretty cheap as far as drugs go, and if the person asking you is an addict who ran out of cigs, their friends may have to deal with them in the middle of a withdrawal.

  2. Don’t blow smoke in anyone’s face, especially those who are not smoking, and especially those who are allergic (although you probably shouldn’t smoke around allergic people anyway).

  3. When you’re about to light up, obey the law of the land (ie, don’t smoke near a school if your state/city/district has rules about that), and ask anyone standing nearby if they mind. Second-hand smoke doesn’t bother me anymore, but it used to, and I know that I was pretty annoyed when my dad lit up right in front of me without asking (he stopped doing this a long time ago).

  4. Don’t smoke indoors unless you own the place you’re in (car, house, whatever) or you have clear permission to do so from the owner, it’s legal (goes back to restaurant thing), and the people around you don’t mind. (Heaven knows unwanted second-hand smoke is even worse in an enclosed space.)

Add your own! I’m looking particularly for rules regarding smoker-to-smoker etiquette, ie, whose cigarette you light first if there’s only one lighter, etc.

If there are two smokers and one lighter, the person who owns the lighter should offer to light the other person’s cigarette first. If there are more than two, I’m not sure if there’s an official line; among my friends, the boys tended to light the girls’ cigarettes first, while the girls tended to just go around the group in a circular manner disregarding gender.

I’m moving this to IMHO, as this is more of a poll. There are no factual answers that can be given, the answers will vary from one area and culture to another.

For the Straight Dope

Thanks. Wasn’t quite sure whether to put it in GQ or IMHO, as etiquette polls seem a bit more “factual” than most polls, and I wasn’t quite sure whether to think of my OP as a request for facts or a poll for opinions.

When a man extends a light for your cigarette, and you are a woman, it is polite to take his hand and guide it to your cigarette while looking into his eyes.

To expand on this, I not only don’t blow the smoke toward any non-smoking persons in the area, I also aim the cigarette away. I.e. I never hold my cigarette in front of another person (including myself; I make smoke, but I don’t like to breathe any smoke when I’m not dragging.) And if I see smoke making its way toward someone, I subtly re-direct it.


And never smoke while someone’s eating.

Polite? Or an invite to do you? :stuck_out_tongue:

See? We smokers aren’t monsters bent on destroying your breathing experience! We have culture

I have always thought it was polite to not only ask if folks mind you lighting up, but to offer a smoke to the rest of the group.

I will bum a cigarette to anyone I know by their first name, but rarely to a stranger. I live in cities, and it’s a noted attempt to get close enough to do something horrible to ya, was the bummer so inclined.

Regardless of who is male or female, if you give someone a cigarette, you should offer to light it for them.

If you’re smoking outside at a non-smoker’s home, don’t leave the butts on the ground. Don’t even throw them in the trashcan, they will stink. I usually either pocket them (after flicking out the remaining tobacco) or stick them in my car’s ashtray.

Regarding non-smokers etiquette to smokers, one simple rule; don’t sit in the smoking section, and then cough loudly whenever someone lights up. I will be the one who turns to you and says “Excuse me, but could you please put your fork down? I am trying to enjoy my cigarette.”

I’m not so sure about offering cigarettes. Same with alcohol. If someone asks for one, I won’t deny (except for relatives, I hate it when my mother asks me for a cigarette), but I’d rather risk people thinking I’m unpolite than to help them to poisons.

Deva, way to be an example of a courteous smoker :slight_smile:
BTW, I hadn’t heard the angle that letting someone bum a cigarette can open you up to attack of some kind. I live in a pretty big city too, and I have never heard of that, but I guess it makes sense.

Which brings up another etiquette question: If you do bum a cigarette off of a stranger, do you sit down and smoke with them? I was smoking with a couple of friends recently, and about 3 people (a couple of minutes apart) came up and bummed cigarettes off us, and then just walked off somewhere. I had mixed feelings on that–it would have been nice of them to sit down and smoke with us, but OTOH I guess I could see how they would want to avoid making us uncomfortable. I guess tobacco smokers just aren’t as ‘tight-knit’ as pot smokers–I remember a couple occasions where I’d be getting high with some friends and we’d be ‘found’, and we’d totally freak out–until we heard the people who found us saying “It’s cool man, we’re doing the same thing you’re doing!” Then we would all laugh about it, and they would sit down with us and we’d all share our dope and our smoking devices with each other for a while. (I smoked pot before I smoked tobacco, so I guess I was just used to pot etiquette.)

jatfield, that’s a good point–it’s a fine line. Personally, I’d rather be courteous–I’d assume that most people who’ve been alive for more than a decade have heard plenty about how bad smoking is for you, and if they’re old enough for a cigarette they’re old enough to make their own decisions about what goes in their body and what doesn’t.

Happy, good additions. One forgets that others don’t want their food smoked! (Is smoking OK when others are eating salmon, maybe? :smiley:

glass, I’m also wondering whether that’s politeness or flirting.

Well, that’s the first tobacco taboo you’ve smashed to smithereens right there.

If you spend all your smoking time bumming off others, then smoking etiqette demands that you present yourself complete with a box of cigarettes occasionally, otherwise your smoking friends will think you are a cheapskate.

I have no problems offering anyone a fag, but if it’s ALWAYS the same person, and they NEVER put their hand in their pocket to buy any, then I get a tad cheesed off.

To add:
Never litter. The #1 thing smoker’s can do to benefit their own cause is to quit using the world as an ashtray.


What about these:
Don’t light up a cigarette if you know someone in the room has a huuuge headache.

If you’re in a small environment with no ventilation, it is definitely better to ask before lighting up.
Especially if it is forbidden anyway, because Lars will call the non-smoking officers (people in public organizations who are allowed to fine people smoking in forbidden areas, defined by Italian law) on you.

If you’re a non-smoking officer and someone calls you, don’t darn show up with a lighted cigarette! :mad:

Anytime someone asks me for a cig and I have more than 2 left, I’ll give one out. Now, assuming I don’t know you, and you ask me for another cig at some point later that day, I’ll tell you get bent.

Also, when bumming smokes (if I am out and not somewhere I can buy them) then I always use the “Can I buy a smoke for a dollar from you?” rather than the “Can I bum a smoke?” I think only 2 or 3 times in my life has anyone ever actually taken my dollar. Nearly all people will just give me one, but I feel better about offering to buy one that asking for one for free.

  1. Sorry, I don’t give spare change to anyone that asks, and I never did with cigarettes. Unless I’m your friend, don’t bother asking. I was never rude about it, but would give the ol’ “I’m sorry, this is my last one” with a small smile.

As for the only etiquette rule I can think to add, and it’s kind of expanding on the don’t litter rule:

For the love of everything that is holy: DO NOT THROW A LIT CIGARETTE OUT THE BLOODY WINDOW WHEN YOU’RE DRIVING. That goes triple when you’re in known brush fire areas.

If someone asks you to put your cigarette out, do it immediately. Don’t argue about it.

From my smoking days…

If you bum a smoke from me, don’t dare bitch about the brand. I had my favorite brand (Players Light), but every few packs I would try something new like Dunhills or Winstons. My friends would all bitch about the taste, but I never once saw them throw a smoke away until it was finished.

I would like to add an “amen” to that! I’ve actually picked up butts off of the ground and handed them back to people at work when I see them do that. (I’m not sure I’d do that to a stranger, although I’d like to think I could outrun a smoker :wink: )

Not a chance. If its a friend, or someone I am trying to accomodate, I will. And generally, I’m a pretty polite smoker and try to pay attention to where my smoke is going. But say I’m sitting in a bar where I still can smoke, and I’m in the smoking section. If someone asks me to put it out, I will put it out. When I’m done with it.