Dining Etiquette: Smoking

Smoking at the Table

It is an established medical fact that smoking is a health hazard. Smoking is less tolerated in public places in the United States; However, there are still some of your customers, colleagues or providers that may still want to smoke at the table.  Only a few restaurants in some state have designated sections for smoking. 

At private affairs, if smoke really affects your health, it is appropriate to ask to be seated at a table where people do not smoke. In situations where this is not possible (and when you are not the host or hostess), if a smoker at your table lights up, try to voice your objection in a gentle way, depersonalizing your request.

For example: “I’m sorry, but I’m allergic to smoke. Would you mind smoking on the terrace?” Or, “I’m sorry, I’m allergic to smoke; would you mind terribly waiting to smoke until later?” This places the blame on a medical problem, not on the smoker’s habit.

If the smoker is the host or hostess, a client or the guest of honor, it is recommended just to let them smoke without such comments or restrictions. This is especially important when entertaining foreign clients for whom smoking is still acceptable.

In any case, smoking should never be done while there is food on the table. Do not light up at the table until after everyone has finished dessert. And, of course, if you smoke, be careful to exhale away from people’s faces; it might require shifting your position in your seat to be able to control the stream.

In today’s business world, it is an asset to be a non-smoker not not only for your health, but for the ability to interact with others easily without the burden of an additional issue that may cause discomfort to those with whom we work, entertain, and serve.