How to Use Proper Etiquette when Smoking

Three Parts:Choosing an Appropriate Time and Place to SmokeSmoking in Enclosed AreasMaintaining Proper Hygiene and Manners

Are you sick and tired of getting dirty looks whenever you whip out a cigarette? Knowing proper smoking etiquette is crucial, especially with the various public smoking bans and restrictions public smoking laws present across the United States. It can be a challenge that you can skillfully master by applying a number of strategies.

Part 1
Choosing an Appropriate Time and Place to Smoke

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    Ask first before lighting up around others. If you’re in a mixed crowd or with nonsmokers, always ask permission before smoking. Many people cannot tolerate the smell of smoke. In addition, someone may have health problems, some even life threatening, that require them to stay away from smoking.
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    Don’t smoke around children and pregnant women. Smoking around children should be avoided at all costs. Smoking increases a baby’s risk of dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In addition, smoking around pregnant women increases a baby’s risk of SIDS after birth. Smoking can also trigger asthma attacks in children. Furthermore, children are more prone to developing a number of illness, such as bronchitis, pneumonia, and ear infections, when exposed to smoking.[1]
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    Avoid smoking in parks and playgrounds. Many jurisdictions and cities have laws banning smoking in parks and playgrounds. Parks and playgrounds are filled with children, pregnant mothers, and families. As a result, avoid smoking in these recreational areas.
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    Smoke outdoors whenever possible. It’s not always convenient having to smoke outside, but it is necessary when you are indoors and around others. Other people may find the smell of smoke bothersome. In addition, second hand smoke causes more than 41,000 deaths per year, and exposing others to your cigarette smoke increases their chance of developing and suffering from lung cancer, respiratory infections and asthma.[2]
    • Be careful even when smoking in places like an outdoor bar and other outdoor social spots. If you are smoking at an outdoor, be sure to smoke away from the door. This will keep the smoke from entering indoors.
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    Wait until you can move to a vacant place. Some people dislike the smell of cigarette smoke. Cigarette smoke can also trigger asthma attacks and cause great distress for autistic people or people with Sensory Processing Disorder. Smoking away from the public is a matter of both politeness and safety.
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    Excuse yourself when engaged in social activities. If you need to take a smoke break, politely excuse yourself before getting up or leaving those you are with. This will allow you to politely disengage from guest and activities.
    • If you need to take a smoke break while eating a meal, you can say, “Excuse me. I will be right back,” the proceed to an area outside to smoke that is either designated for smoking or far away from the building entrance and passersby. Try to limit your smoke break for only two or three minutes so you can return to your meal in a timely manner.
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    Smoke at the back or side of a building. Many buildings and cities have rules stating the specific distance that you must be away from the front door when smoking. If this distance is not stated, you’ll want to find a place with the least amount of foot traffic. Never smoke in front of a building; this forces people who do not want to inhale your smoke to be force-fed it. There also may be children or people with asthma coming too.
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    Limit the number of smoke breaks at work. Many states have laws that state that workers are entitled to a certain number and length of breaks throughout a workday. Typically, the employee is in control of how they use this break time. Try to include your smoke breaks during your allotted break times. Taking too many additional smoke breaks outside of this time can hinder both your individual work productivity and the productivity of any collaborative team work where your contribution is needed.

Part 2
Smoking in Enclosed Areas

  1. Image titled Use Proper Etiquette when Smoking Step 9
    Refrain from smoking in your car. A number of U.S. states have laws making it illegal to smoke in a car when children are passengers. Of course, exposing both child and adult passengers to secondhand smoke is a health hazard. In addition, the smell of cigarette smoke has a tendency to linger around well after the cigarette has been extinguished. As a smoker, you might not notice the lingering smell as much as non-smokers. Simply smoking with the car windows open or using the ventilation system is not enough to rid the car of cigarette smoke.
    • To help lessen the temptation, consider filling your car’s ashtray with something else like spare change, so you aren’t able to fill it with your cigarette buds. You can also plug a cell phone charger into the car’s adapter outlet so you are less tempted to use it as a lighter.[3]
    • If you can’t resist the temptation to smoke in your car, then be sure to smoke with the car windows down. Make sure to frequently wipe down the dashboard with a disinfectant cleaning product, and keep the upholstery and rugs vacuumed. Also, consider getting the interior steam cleaned, making sure to use an odor remover that includes enzymes that break down the chemicals that are causing the smell.[4]
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    Eliminate smoking in a place of residence. You probably spend more hours at home than anywhere else. You might find it convenient to light up within the comfort of your own home. However, you are exposing other residents and house guests to inhaling and smelling second-hand smoke. In addition, third hand smoke clings to surfaces such as drapes, walls, furniture, carpet and dust. People are at risk of third hand smoke when they inhale, ingest or touch things exposed to smoke, and this puts them at risk for tobacco related illnesses.[5]
    • Keep in mind that air fresheners, open windows, and ventilation does not effectively rid a place of smoking residue. The only proper way of demonstrating courteous and proper etiquette is to not smoke inside a home.
    • lf you absolutely must smoke at home, smoke in the bathroom or another secluded room with the windows open and fans turned on. After that, dampen a dishtowel or similar cloth with vinegar and wave it around the room for one to two minutes. You should also periodically wash and disinfect all interior walls, windows and hard surfaces throughout the home using mild soap or other disinfecting cleaning products.[6]
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    Smoke only in designated smoking spots at work. Smoking in the workplace is illegal throughout many parts of the United States and in many countries worldwide. Some companies have designed sections outdoors where employees can smoke. Even Reynolds American, the second largest cigarette maker in the U.S., has banned its employees from smoking indoors and only smoking in designated smoking areas outdoors.
    • Make sure you are fully adhering to the rules stated in the designated smoking areas. Oftentimes, you will find a “designated smoking area” sign placed in the area where you are allowed to smoke. You’ll also find signs stating how far away from a building you must be before lighting up.

Part 3
Maintaining Proper Hygiene and Manners

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    Keep your breath fresh. There is nothing worse than engaging in conversation with someone with stinky breath! Take time to freshen your breath with a quick brushing and use of a breath mint, mouthwash, or breath spray after smoking. This not only benefits others, but you as well. You’ll enjoy having minty fresh breath and whiter teeth.
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    Freshen up after smoking. As you know, the smell of smoke lingers everywhere, including your skin. Even if you are smoking outside, you still carry the residual fumes and chemicals that are left on skin, hair, and clothes inside with you.[7]
    • Be sure to wash at least your face and hands after smoking. If possible, change your clothes, or wear as little clothing as possible while smoking outside. Keep you hair tied back while smoking to decrease the amount of smoke that gets into your hair.
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    Dispose of your cigarette buds properly. Cigarette buds are litter and should be disposed of properly. Make sure to throw away your cigarette buds in trashcan and cigarette butt receptacles. Be certain that you have completely extinguished the fire from your cigarette before throwing it away to prevent a fire.
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    Respond appropriately to polite non-smoking request. You may have experienced a time when someone has requested for you to put out your cigarette. Try not to get worked up over their request, and either put out your cigarette or cigar or move to another location.[8]
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    Stay calm when faced with rude comments. As a smoker, you’ve probably grown use to encountering looks of disapproval from complete strangers as you’re lighting up. However, some people will go as far as giving unsolicited advice and comments. Try to avoid possibly escalating the situation by remaining gracious throughout the encounter.[9]
    • For example, if someone were to tell you, “Don’t you know that smoking is bad for you?”, you could offer a response like, “Yes, I do. Thanks for your concern,” and then walk away. It is probably best to avoid risking a confrontation by telling the person to mind their business or suggesting some vile, dark place where they can take their opinion.


  • There is much debate over the use of e-cigarettes and the health risk that they pose to both the user and others exposed to the vapors secondhand. To be on the safe side, treat smoking e-cigarette devices the same as smoking traditional tobacco products. This will ensure that you are exhibiting proper smoking etiquette.


  • We know you're here for proper smoking etiquette advice. However (apologies in advance), smoking does have many health problems, and you might want to consider quitting, or swapping your cigarette for a vape or similar. Contact help if you want to quit.

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Categories: Etiquette | Smoking