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Stogie Commentary: Good Manners Up In Smoke

14 Jul 2009

I recently spent four days in Las Vegas and I’ve come to this conclusion: Something about smoking makes many normally considerate people extremely rude.  As cigar smokers have gotten more and more considerate when they light up, some non-smokers have decided to throw good manners out the door.

manners-guideI realize that smoking isn’t as accepted as it once was, and I do my best to be considerate of those who may not appreciate the fantastic aroma of premium tobacco.  Nowadays, when I’m somewhere that smoking isn’t to be expected, I usually ask around to make sure smoking doesn’t bother anyone. “Mind if I smoke?” is a question that cigar enthusiats are accustomed to asking these days before lighting up.

Too bad smokers’ increasingly courteous behavior isn’t being returned by all non-smokers. As my trip to Vegas revealed, rudeness towards smokers seems to have become acceptable.

Repeatedly, I found people complaining out loud, pretending I couldn’t hear their complaints.  This was apparent even where smoking is the norm, on the  vice-filled casino floor—one of the few “public” places left to light up a cigar in this country—and often when I had been smoking well before the obnoxious complainer had arrived.

For some unfortunate reason, rudeness towards smokers has become acceptable, even as our our culture has become more and more tolerant of other differences and personal choices. Tolerance and even basic manners, it seems, goes out the window when tobacco is involved.

Maybe it’s all that propaganda about smoking that floods our televisions, radios, and newspapers. People have been told that one second of tobacco smoke will instantly put them in the hospital.  This despite the fact that it takes years, if not decades, of “second-hand smoke” before any statistically meaningful increase in risk takes place.

Add to that all the hyped-up fear and law after law—be it a smoking ban, a paternalistic regulation, or a punitive tax hike—that treats smokers like second-class citizens, and we’ve got society where bigotry against smokers is acceptable. (A “bigot,” after all, is defined as “a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group with hatred and intolerance.”)

While cause and effect are hard to determine, no matter what the reason, it seems we have turned a corner as a society. Smoking, once accepted as a personal choice that adults can make for themselves, has unfortunately become a subject where prejudice and narrow-mindedness are increasingly accepted.

Bad manners may be the result now, but if history is any indicator, as prejudice and bigotry become more widespread, this anti-smoking mindset will become increasingly entrenched and institutionalized in our laws and culture. It’s not a pleasant conclusion, but the sooner we realize and accept it, the better chance we have of stopping it.

Patrick S

photo credit: Amazon.com

Drew Estate

15 Responses to “Stogie Commentary: Good Manners Up In Smoke”

  1. furious Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 4:12 am #

    If these anti-smoking zealots would spend 10% of the energy that they use fighting personal choice on fighting hunger or a similar NOBLE cause, then the world would be a much better place.

  2. Chris Farley Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 5:14 am #

    I've had that happen to me as well, but my response was a bit different.

    I turned the tables and loudly commented to my companion that I was amazed that people were stupid and childish enough to make loud and rude comments and pretend that others couldn't hear it. I made fun of simpletons that believe anything the government tells them and think that second-hand smoke can really kill them. I also made comments about whiners and complainers sitting in the smoking section. Eventually, the butt-head left in a huff, which amused me. Oddly enough, this all happened in a casino in West Virginia.

  3. BubbaGene Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 5:35 am #

    We have become a country of whiners. As furious suggests, perhaps some noble cause ought to be the focus instead. I am an avid cigar smoker and a soon to be bar owner. I will not be allowed to smoke in my own establishment. This bugs me on every level. I can get over the fact that the government has a say in who I hire and the minimum wage I have to pay them. I am not sure I can get over the idea of not being able to light up in my own place. On top of that, if someone else does, I could face a fine.

    Cheers Farley……. maybe we should all start fighting back.

  4. Dwayne J Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 6:13 am #

    Maybe we should all meet at BubbaGene's new bar for free drinks! I'll bring some spare smokes…

  5. BubbaGene Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 6:17 am #

    You got it, Dwayne. We are still allowed to smoke on the balcony outside!

  6. jd Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 6:19 am #

    This is a really good post, though I completely understand that people don't dig cigar smoke. But in Vegas? All bets are literally off when it comes to lighting up a good smoke, as it's generally permitted in many places. I can't even sit at bars out there sometimes without the bartender complaining — it's a BAR. Sometimes, oddly enough, it just makes me enjoy the smoke more.

  7. dmjones Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 6:28 am #

    Me and my friends that I went to the Big Smoke with struggled to find a place to light up a cigar in Vegas, finally settling upon a bar adjoining the casino floor. We lit up and one of the bartenders immediately turned a fan toward us to blow the cigar smoke away. He was apparently taking some kind of "stop-smoking" medication and the cigar smoke was making his nauseous. My thought is…fine a new frickin' job! Or at least ask to be transferred to a restaurant/bar in the hotel that doesn't allow smoking (there are usually half a dozen or more in any sizable establishment).

    The best place to smoke, though, is my wide and deep front porch with plenty of shade and the wide blowing in the trees. And if anyone complains about the smoke, I can just whip out my shotgun and…that would quickly end the argument! 🙂

  8. Mike Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 6:58 am #

    I try to be considerate and would usually move in such a situation, but since there is no compromise in this issue and a ban will likely be enacted eventually — even in Vegas — if there was no where to move, I'd just keep on smoking.

    I did that in Chicago in the 3 years before its smoking ban took effect. A woman at a cigars-permitted retaurant bar scowled when I lit my stogie.

    But I knew the bar would be smoke-free in about a year anyway. For now, she's the one who could suffer, I thought.

  9. Patrick M Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 7:35 am #

    I try to be considerate of people when deciding on lighting up. If I am in a cigar bar or smoke friendly establishment I have no qualms about lighting up in the permitted areas and those that complain can CHOOSE to go to one of the infinite number of establishments that are smoke free. On the flip side in South Florida I sometime encounter the patio area at a restaurant where people may be sitting outside to enjoy the weather/view while they eat. If they were there before me I will generally inquire as to if it is going to bother them if I smoke. If I am there first and it bother someone who comes along later they can CHOOSE to sit somewhere else, like inside.

  10. Patrick M Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 7:37 am #

    A little common courtesy from smokers and non-smokers would obviate the need for all of the endless smoking bans and the free market could then dictate which establishments were smoke free or friendly.

  11. stinkie Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 11:04 am #

    I had something like this happen to me on my last trip to Vegas. While sitting at a slot with a co-worker smoking a cigar (which by the way I picked the spot because no one was around) a lady came and sat next to me, once she seen that I was smoking a cigar she looked at me with a disgusted look on her face, waved her hand in front of her nose and told me it stunk. I did give her props for having the balls to tell me to my face but I laughed at her and told her to leave.

    I have always been a very considerate smoker never firing up in a restaurant or a place that is packed (beside bars). She just got me off guard that day. Don't come to me and expect me to move.

  12. harleyrider1978 Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 1:18 pm #

    THE AIR ACCORDING TO OSHA

    Though repetition has little to do with "the truth," we're repeatedly told that there's "no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke."

    OSHA begs to differ.

    OSHA has established PELs (Permissible Exposure Levels) for all the measurable chemicals, including the 40 alleged carcinogens, in secondhand smoke. PELs are levels of exposure for an 8-hour workday from which, according to OSHA, no harm will result.

    Of course the idea of "thousands of chemicals" can itself sound spooky. Perhaps it would help to note that coffee contains over 1000 chemicals, 19 of which are known to be rat carcinogens.

    -"Rodent Carcinogens: Setting Priorities" Gold Et Al., Science, 258: 261-65 (1992)

    There. Feel better?

    As for secondhand smoke in the air, OSHA has stated outright that:

    "Field studies of environmental tobacco smoke indicate that under normal conditions, the components in tobacco smoke are diluted below existing Permissible Exposure Levels (PELS.) as referenced in the Air Contaminant Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000)…It would be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that any individual PEL would be exceeded."

    -Letter From Greg Watchman, Acting Sec'y, OSHA, To Leroy J Pletten, PHD, July 8, 1997

    Indeed it would.

    Independent health researchers have done the chemistry and the math to prove how very very rare that would be.

    As you're about to see in a moment.

    In 1999, comments were solicited by the government from an independent Public and Health Policy Research group, Littlewood & Fennel of Austin, Tx, on the subject of secondhand smoke.

    Using EPA figures on the emissions per cigarette of everything measurable in secondhand smoke, they compared them to OSHA's PELs.

    The following excerpt and chart are directly from their report and their Washington testimony:

    CALCULATING THE NON-EXISTENT RISKS OF ETS

    "We have taken the substances for which measurements have actually been obtained–very few, of course, because it's difficult to even find these chemicals in diffuse and diluted ETS.

    "We posit a sealed, unventilated enclosure that is 20 feet square with a 9 foot ceiling clearance.

    "Taking the figures for ETS yields per cigarette directly from the EPA, we calculated the number of cigarettes that would be required to reach the lowest published "danger" threshold for each of these substances. The results are actually quite amusing. In fact, it is difficult to imagine a situation where these threshold limits could be realized.

    "Our chart (Table 1) illustrates each of these substances, but let me report some notable examples.

    "For Benzo[a]pyrene, 222,000 cigarettes would be required to reach the lowest published "danger" threshold.

    "For Acetone, 118,000 cigarettes would be required.

    "Toluene would require 50,000 packs of simultaneously smoldering cigarettes.

    "At the lower end of the scale– in the case of Acetaldehyde or Hydrazine, more than 14,000 smokers would need to light up simultaneously in our little room to reach the threshold at which they might begin to pose a danger.

    "For Hydroquinone, "only" 1250 cigarettes are required. Perhaps we could post a notice limiting this 20-foot square room to 300 rather tightly-packed people smoking no more than 62 packs per hour?

    "Of course the moment we introduce real world factors to the room — a door, an open window or two, or a healthy level of mechanical air exchange (remember, the room we've been talking about is sealed) achieving these levels becomes even more implausible.

    "It becomes increasingly clear to us that ETS is a political, rather than scientific, scapegoat."

    Chart (Table 1)

    -"Toxic Toxicology" Littlewood & Fennel

    Coming at OSHA from quite a different angle is litigator (and how!) John Banzhaf, founder and president of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH).

    Banzhaf is on record as wanting to remove healthy children from intact homes if one of their family smokes. He also favors national smoking bans both indoors and out throughout America, and has litigation kits for sale on how to get your landlord to evict your smoking neighbors.

    Banzhaf originally wanted OSHA to ban smoking in all American workplaces.

    It's not even that OSHA wasn't happy to play along; it's just that–darn it — they couldn't find the real-world science to make it credible.

    So Banzhaf sued them. Suing federal agencies to get them to do what you want is, alas, a new trick in the political deck of cards. But OSHA, at least apparently, hung tough.

    In response to Banzhaf's law suit they said the best they could do would be to set some official standards for permissible levels of smoking in the workplace.

    Scaring Banzhaf, and Glantz and the rest of them to death.

    Permissible levels? No, no. That would mean that OSHA, officially, said that smoking was permitted. That in fact, there were levels (hard to exceed, as we hope we've already shown) that were generally safe.

    This so frightened Banzhaf that he dropped the case. Here are excerpts from his press release:

    "ASH has agreed to dismiss its lawsuit against OSHA…to avoid serious harm to the non-smokers rights movement from adverse action OSHA had threatened to take if forced by the suit to do it….developing some hypothetical [ASH's characterization] measurement of smoke pollution that might be a better remedy than prohibiting smoking….[T]his could seriously hurt efforts to pass non-smokers' rights legislation at the state and local level…

    Another major threat was that, if the agency were forced by ASH's suit to promulgate a rule regulating workplace smoking, [it] would be likely to pass a weak one…. This weak rule in turn could preempt future and possibly even existing non-smokers rights laws– a risk no one was willing to take.

    As a result of ASH's dismissal of the suit, OSHA will now withdraw its rule-making proceedings but will do so without using any of the damaging [to Anti activists] language they had threatened to include."

    -ASH Nixes OSHA Suit To Prevent Harm To Movement

    Looking on the bright side, Banzhaf concludes:

    "We might now be even more successful in persuading states and localities to ban smoking on their own, once they no longer have OSHA rule-making to hide behind."

    Once again, the Anti-Smoking Movement reveals that it's true motive is basically Prohibition (stopping smokers from smoking; making them "social outcasts") –not "safe air."

    And the attitude seems to be, as Stanton Glantz says, if the science doesn't "help" you, don't do the science.

  13. harleyrider1978 Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 1:19 pm #

    SECONDHAND SMOKE IS A JOKE……..just like the liberal green wacked prohibitionist movement.

  14. bg Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 5:59 pm #

    I've had a couple of occasions where someone has made those loud-enough-to-hear-while-prentending-they-can't-be-heard-comments. The response I've had the most fun with – and that is pretty much guaranteed to make them blow a fuse, is: "you're not being very tolerant of my lifestyle choices. You should be more respectful of my diversity". They hate that .

  15. Jeff Borysiewicz Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 6:12 am #

    The truth about second hand smoke studies http://tinyurl.com/ltpmhf

    We have to stop the popaganda from the nannyists that the press eats up as fact. Our whole society has been brainwashed that the slightest wiff of a cigar will cause you damage.

    Fight back and join the CRA.