By: Lauren Anderson, health program analyst and volunteer coordinator for the Senior Medicare Patrol at the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health & Wellness

I am a fan of good health, I like eating vegetables, running, yoga, and being social. In college, I remember the days when it was perfectly acceptable to light a cigarette on a crowded restaurant patio or even inside the restaurant itself. Since I am not a fan of cigarettes I am glad to see the etiquette rules of smoking in public changing. I’d love to see all smokers decide to quit, but it’s a tough habit to break (on average, smokers make seven quit attempts before they are successful). So I accept my smoking friends without embracing their smoking habits. I don’t mind speaking up when someone is smoking nearby.

Thanks to Louisville’s 2008 Smoking Ban Ordinance smoking is prohibited inside public buildings and establishments (a structure with 80% or more of its perimeter closed in by walls). But, many times in social situations you are outside or in smoker’s vehicles when they light up. The key to smokers and nonsmokers getting along peacefully is having respect for each other and both parties exhibiting good manners. Cigaretiquette is defined by the Urban Dictionary as “manners employed during smoking cigars or cigarettes.”

First, let’s talk about cars. There is nowhere for a nonsmoker to escape secondhand smoke. I can smell smoke on my clothing and the wind from driving on the Waterson Expressway with the windows down can mean havoc for hair and makeup carefully styled and applied before a night out. I am not the only person that feels this way- ranking #2 on the list of top 10 things you can do to make your Uber driver (or DD) sad from the LA-List is smoking in cars. LA List says “One thing you probably love about riding in an Uber compared to a taxi is it doesn’t smell like an ashtray. So please don’t even think about lighting up a cigarette in the backseat. Be considerate to the driver and the next passenger who probably doesn’t want to smell your smoke. And please don’t ask us to make an exception because that will create an awkward “hell no” from us and turn positive vibes into something sad.”

Trent Armstrong, the Modern Manners Guy from Quick and Dirty Tips, encourages smokers to consider that smoke doesn’t just disappear when it leaves their immediate area, even outside.  “Smoking on your balcony or in your backyard is a perfectly acceptable practice unless you realize your neighbor is having a party in their backyard or is enjoying a pleasant day with their windows open. When you see that your smoke will drift into the area of the party or you hear your neighbor shutting their windows, your grown-up responsibility is to extinguish your cigarette or move to another location.” Armstrong also advises that it is acceptable to politely ask people to extinguish their cigarette when smoke is impeding your enjoyment and health.

About.Com’s Style blog has some additional useful advice for graceful smoking behavior in social situations: 

  • Ask First: Even if it is legal to smoke, ask those around you if they mind. It has become socially acceptable for nonsmokers to tell you they don’t want to breathe your secondhand smoke. Some people will tell you they’re fine with it, even if they aren’t, so pay close attention to their tone and body language. If they grimace or hesitate, they’re probably just trying to be polite.
  • Being Asked to Stop after the Fact: If someone asks you to stop smoking after you have lit up, you have two choices: Either put out the cigarette or move to a different location. Avoid being snarky. You’re the one who is infringing on their air space. Apologize and do as they ask.

We all strive to be as healthy as possible, and reducing your exposure to secondhand smoke is just one more way to do that:

  • Ask people not to smoke in your home.
  • Don’t allow anyone to smoke in your car, even with the windows down.
  • Seek out social places that do not allow smoking.
  • Don’t lecture smokers about stopping (it’s not polite!) but you may advise them that Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness offers resources and tools that can help people become nonsmokers when they are ready. 

About the Series
The YPAL Healthcare Blog Series, sponsored by Norton Healthcare, is part of the new Healthy YP Initiative, which will focus on the health and well-being of our Louisville Young Professionals. This blog series will feature various young professional bloggers in our community sharing their stories on health, wellness, nutrition, fitness and healthy lifestyles.

Skip to content