What You Need to Know About Smoking Etiquette (Yes, There’s Such a Thing)

What You Need to Know About Smoking Etiquette (Yes, There’s Such a Thing)

In polite society, cigarette breaks are never without this



When an addictive substance is made obtainable legally and easily, the result is one widespread and widely accepted bad habit. It’s cigarette smoking: one habit shared by some 15.9 million Filipinos (nearly a quarter of the adult population) in 2015. The good news is the number is declining. The bad news? No amount of government warnings, graphic depictions of side effects or published medical journals can expedite smoking cessation as swiftly as the Department of Health would hope.


What’s interesting though is that lack of awareness isn’t the issue: The Global Adult Tobacco Survey found that 96.4% of adults who smoke cigarettes were well aware the stuff could cause lung cancer. 95.4% knew it could lead to tuberculosis and 85.7% knew it increases the risk of a heart attack. This is where nicotine, the addictive component in cigarettes, comes in. People smoke because they want to smoke…and then keep smoking.



Your lungs, your rules—that much, we understand. If diseases linked to smoking like cancer, stroke, hypertension and diabetes don’t keep you from reaching for another stick or pack, might as turn your attention to conducting yourself in a civilized manner the next time you go for a cigarette break.


Smoke only in designated areas.

Quick reference: Executive Order (EO) No. 26 prohibits smoking in all public places nationwide.


Should you find yourself in an enclosed venue where smoking is allowed, ask the people you’re with anyway if you can light one up.

It doesn’t have to be more complicated than a “may I?” or “do you mind?” Be thoughtful enough to extend this courtesy to those seated at the next table should your parties be in very close proximity.


Never blow smoke in someone’s face.

Even if you are caught up in a lively conversation with someone as you smoke, turn away when you exhale. Secondhand smoke is bad enough; being (literally) in-your-face about it isn’t necessary.


Be mindful about where you flick your cigarette ash.

Into an ashtray is best.


If you aren’t equipped with your own lighter, go ahead and borrow one and mind your Ps and your Qs along the way. Keeping a lighter that isn’t yours, of course, is a no-no.

We hear that’s called stealing.


See a child or a pregnant woman within a five-foot radius? As a courtesy, skip that cigarette (or move somewhere else).

No yosi break is worth corrupting the lungs of a child or potentially causing complications in somebody’s pregnancy.


Can’t find a trash bin? Hang on to that cigarette butt until you come across one.

Fact: Litter collected in urban areas largely consist of cigarette butts.


And when there is a trash bin available, actually dispose your cigarette butt in it.

Granted it’s more convenient to throw your cigarette butt on the ground, kill the ember with your shoe and leave it there, there is no excuse for littering especially when a trash bin is right there in plain sight.


Should you ever feel like coughing and you don’t have a tissue, cough into your sleeve…never into your hand.

When you feel like coughing or sneezing, the polite thing to do is to first distance yourself from the people closest to you. Cover your nose and mouth using a tissue. If not, aim into your elbow and then cough or sneeze. Using your hand to shield your face creates an opportunity for the bacteria to be passed around on the surfaces you may touch or people you interact with afterwards.


If you are a guest in someone’s home, ask your host first if smoking is allowed in the premises.

This one’s as simple as respecting house rules.


Did you know that June was declared “National No Smoking Month” in the Philippines? Now that you’ve got smoking etiquette down-pat, how about conquering that month-long boycott next?


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Art Cara Gamo

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