Q: What are the rules on smoking cigarettes in public? I thought it was historically socially acceptable to smoke anywhere it was permitted by law? Non-smokers are so offended and snarky, even when you are in a bar! It just makes me want to light up another one or rather, light them on-fire. What are or should be the rules on smoking today?

Smoldering Student

Dear Smoldering Student:

Neither Mimi’s answer nor history is on your side. Mimi, at the risk of vulgarity, thinks Steve Martin’s quote sums up her position on smoking pretty well, “The only thing that bothers me is if I’m in a restaurant and I’m eating and someone says, ‘Hey, mind if I smoke?’ I always say, ‘No. Mind if I fart.'” Smoldering, smoky society only existed for a short time in the middle of the last century. It was never tolerated before that. In fact, in the preceding decades and centuries, smokers (aka gentlemen) did not smoke in the presence of nonsmokers (aka ladies). That is why the gents went to smoking rooms and donned smoking jackets to minimize the effects on others.

Unless you live under a rock, I’m sure you know smoking is bad for you, but do you realize how bad it is for others? Well, you should. So please review the shocking information about second hand smoke. Think about that every time you light up around others. Why is Mimi on her high horse with her white hat today, you ask?

Mimi was recently at an outdoor shopping mall in a large metropolitan city that banned public smoking. Mimi’s window-shopping, along with her normally low blood pressure, abruptly ceased when three smokers were blocking the sidewalk, blowing smoke in all directions without regard to the many passersby (many children or babies in strollers). Mimi politely suggested they stop. The ladies (term used loosely here) saluted Mimi with the international symbol of friendship. Mimi was impressed with their reinforcement of society’s impression of smokers: disrespectful and narcissistic. Mimi had to stop and think, if I were spraying toxic pesticide in their direction, do you suppose they would object?

Smokers, if you think that logic is ludicrous and Mimi doesn’t respect how hard it is to stop, believe me, I respect the difficulty. However, I cannot fathom how a smoker justifies smoking in public, knowing it is harming everyone else. It reinforces many negative stereotypes, as did the lovely lady shoppers.  

In sum, Mimi says you should never smoke in public or anywhere else there are children present. If you are invited to a party, where everyone is smoking then by all means continue to kill yourself. But if there is one non-smoker in the room, you need to get their permission to smoke. Above all, think about it in terms of how you look at others and want others to look at you. Remember You, On View, our April post. Think before you start or continue this habit and make sure that is the you you want on view to others.


Mademoiselle realizes smoking is a polarizing topic as evidenced by Mimi’s response above. I’m a little more moderate, when it comes to being at bars or parties, where it is, in fact, the norm to smoke. I’m not a smoker and the idea of smoke free bars is appealing, but if you are a non-smoker at a bar, you either suck it up or leave. Anywhere else in public is a no-no! We are all about encouraging people to be polite. So smokers, be polite, don’t light up in public and if you are asked to put it out, do so. And then, if you just cannot help yourself, go lock yourself in your car and have the whole pack. If I were ruler of the universe, I would outlaw all forms of cigarettes, but until then… smoke politely. 


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