|Reggie in his younger days, enjoying a restorative smoke|
Even though I gave up smoking cigarettes regularly years ago, I'm not immune to lighting one up every once in a great while at a party (whether in my own house or someone else's) if a pack is brought out and offered 'round. But I generally need to be fairly soused and among the company of other smokers, a rarity in the circles I run in these days. I'm the type that needs a ring leader to bring me into the fray: you know the kind, the ones who slyly bring out a pack at a dinner party once the dishes have been cleared and says "Mind if I smoke?" and everyone else at the table responds "Mind? Not if I can have one, too!" and then happily settles into an evening of boozing and smoking, having an absolutely lovely time of it.
Until the next morning, that is, when one awakes with a cigarette hangover and wonders "What was I thinking?"
|Not all that long ago, it was considered socially|
acceptable to smoke at dinner parties
So, for those of you who may question under what authority Reggie speaks when it comes to the behavior of and rules for smokers, I believe I have the smoking credentials to spell out what I believe are the rules by which smokers should abide in today's increasingly rabid anti-smoking world. I'm not expecting you to agree with all of these rules in all cases, Dear Reader, but please do read them and give them some thought. I'd be interested to hear from you, too, as to whether you think I've missed one or two, or am wide of the point in one or two cases.
|Bars, booze, and butts: a match made in Heaven|
Before I get to the rules, however, I'd like to share that I think the whole anti-smoking thing has gone too far here in America, and more recently in Europe. Sacré bleu, that one cannot light up a cigarette in a restaurant in Paris anymore! As far as I'm concerned, people should at least be allowed to smoke in bars and nightclubs, and even in certain grown-up restaurants that are large enough and well-ventilated enough to be able to support having a smoking section. I'm fine with there being non-smoking restaurants for those that can't abide secondhand smoke, but I think there should be some choice in the matter, too—what's the harm in allowing a restaurateur the choice whether or not to have a smoke-free place? I don't buy into the view that it isn't fair to non-smoking employees and other patrons of such establishments to be exposed to secondhand smoke. Vote with your feet. I don't know all that many people who are exactly forced against their will to work in or go to a bar or club that allows smoking, who don't have any other employment or entertainment choices available to them. Smoking is the least of the vices available in some of those establishments—at least it was in more than a few of the choicer places I found myself in the wee hours of the night in my younger days. If you don't want to inhale secondhand smoke, folks, then don't go to or work in a bar! It's as simple as that.
|Needless to say, Reggie does not countenance|
encouraging young people to smoke
Now that I got that off my chest, here are my rules for thems that still smokes:
1. Confine your smoking only to areas and places where it is explicitly allowed
Even though you may find the present-day restrictions on cigarette smoking inconvenient, if not annoying, you must heed such restrictions. Rules are, after all, rules.
2. Ask first, before lighting up
Whether in public or private. It's common courtesy, thank you.
3. Don't get shirty if someone objects to your smoking
Their rights trump yours.
4. Take it outside
4. Take it outside
Unless explicitly condoned, confine your smoking to the great outdoors.
5. Don't smoke while walking on the street
It is rude to the other people who are out and about, particularly those walking downwind of you, who have no choice but to inhale your secondhand smoke.
6. Watch it with those ashes!
If you must walk around in public smoking a cigarette, don't do it holding it in such a way that there is any risk that you could brush against someone, leaving ashes on them, or even possibly burn them. This is a particular pet-peeve of mine when walking along the sidewalks of New York, where I have on more occasions than I care to recollect found myself with someone's cigarette ashes deposited on my sleeve. And if you do accidentally ash someone, you should apologize profusely for doing so, particularly if the person you've ashed objects to it!
7. Don't walk around with a cigarette butt hanging out of your mouth, like some kind of Bowery bum
It looks disgusting and down market.8. Don't throw a lit cigarette butt onto the sidewalk or the street
It is thoughtless and dangerous, and can burn the feet of those you share the sidewalk with, such as my dear little Pompey.
9. Dispose of your spent cigarette butts in proper receptacles
Don't just toss them on the streets or sidewalks, or into the bushes, assuming that someone else is going to pick them up after you. And don't even consider depositing them in a potted plant or planter. Your spent cigarette butt is litter. Always dispose of cigarette butts in a trash can or in one of those public ashtrays set out in front of buildings. If none of those are around, put the damn cigarette butt in your pocket, and dispose of it properly later.
10. When taking a smoking break from your place of employment, do not hover around the entryway of the building, but rather walk a discrete distance away from it.
It is decidedly unpleasant for those entering and exiting a building to have to walk through a haze of cigarette smoke in order to do so. Besides, there's nothing that looks more depraved than seeing a gaggle of smokers sucking on cigarettes outside of a building.
11. Don't smoke in the car
It is dirty and leaves a vile smell, and is unpleasant for other non-smoking riders trapped in the car with you.
12. Be thoughtful of the people around you who may not share your love for smoking cigarettes
At the end of the day, this is what it is all about.
And there you have it, Dear Reader, Reggie's rules for those who (still) smoke. If you must smoke, I suggest that you follow them, both for your sake and for the sake of others.
All photographs courtesy of LIFE Images