1. V. T. Reynolds

    If you recall, smoking has not only been an accepted but an embraced practice throughout the 20th century. It is only recently that smoking has been so negatively-viewed and those who smoke have been socially persecuted. There is no doubt that overindulgence in tobacco pleasure has negative long-term affects on human health, but the moderate enjoyment of a cigarette every now and then has not been determined to be detrimental to one’s health. I would be willing to bet that one day of second-hand smoke exposure from one person could have no long-term affect on your child’s overall health, either now or into the future. However, I think that stating (directly to the host) that you are declining an invitation based on the host’s smoking habits may not be in your best social interests. I would, instead, make sure that you are busy in some way at any time the invitation is extended.

    • V.T. Reynolds,
      I must respectfully, but completely, disagree with what you have said. Second hand smoke is particularly harmful to a still-developing child.

      To expose a minor to second-hand smoke is irresponsible at the least. The child has no say in what adults around him are doing, while an adult has the ability to choose to smoke or not. I’m not saying an adult is not allowed to smoke, nor that an occasional cigarette is bad; rather, I believe it is the responsibility of the adult to not expose a child to smoke. What if the child gets a headache (which is what would happen to my little brother), or has an asthma attack? What if the child is allergic to cigarette smoke?

      Historically, smoking was not always embraced! In fact, King James VI hated the nasty habit, and in 1604 penned the “Counterblaste to Tobacco,” where he says that it stinks and is bad for the lungs. (The text may be found here.) The hatred of it didn’t stop in the 17th century; however, it was only recently that tobacco was scientifically proven to be harmful.

    • Elizabeth

      I appreciate VT’s point that one should not scold or attempt to humiliate another adult for their vices…lord knows we all have them, and over time they go in and out of fashion. But I also have to agree with Laura that any exposure to second-hand smoke is detrimental to children. We are in the midst of a major shift in cultural attitudes towards smoking. What had been accepted or tolerated even 10 or 20 years ago is not rejected – there is no more smoking in most public places including, in my state, restaurants and bars. Places where one can smoke are now in the minority. If the parent who smoked during the party would have stepped outside to do so, or in another closed and ventilated room, I could see that she recognized her unhealthy habit and at least tried to shield the children from the effects (both physical effects and psychological – children who witness adults smoking are more likely to think that it’s a reasonable thing to do). But, since it sounds like it was in and around children and repeatedly, I would personally have no problem explaining that, while I respect the right of smokers to smoke, surely she could have made the accommodation to not do so in front of them, thereby exposing them to both the smoke and the image of smoking, and neither of which I would care to have my children exposed to.

      • Oh yes, I absolutely believe it is the adult’s choice to smoke, and had the person taken the cigarette outside, I’d have no problem. I have several friends who step outside to smoke, and I wouldn’t dream of telling them what they may or may not do with their own money/bodies. I am more concerned with the child in this situation, who had no choice.

  2. Sara Z

    First and foremost, the parent should teach the child to move away from anyone that is smoking. Second, the host should ask the smoking parent to move away from the children, or even ask the smoking parent to not smoke during the event. If the smoking parent is the host, the non-smoking parent should ask kindly and without lecturing if she would please refrain from smoking in front of the non-smoking parent’s child. Do no tell her that smoking is bad or what effects it has on humans, just that you would prefer if she did not smoke in front of your child. He is your child and thus your responsibility. If the woman declines, please feel free to not allow your son to visit her house. Your first priority is his health.

  3. Country Girl

    I agree with the answer given on this one. Unfortunately it is no one’s place to ask someone to not smoke in their own home. It seems they are hosting the party in this case, so your only real option is to remove your son from this situation if it bothers you. Like the answer stated, the next time this friend’s mom, or any mom, invites your son over ask if there will be smoking during the party. If the answer is yes, you can let the hostess know that, though he would love to come, the smoke bothers little Tommy’s eyes (whatever the case) or you just prefer he not be exposed. You can always invite this smoking parent’s son over for a playdate after the party to insure there are no hard feelings.

    • Elizabeth

      Not to belabor the point, but there are actually studies that show that even exposure to environments where there is regular smoking is dangerous, even when no actual smoking is going on.

      I agree that you can’t tell someone what to do in their own home. But you can ask and you can leave.

      The bigger question is, for me, is it rude of this woman to smoke in front of children? Is it rude for her to do this to her own child? I had a friend, growing up, who had terrible asthma and who was an athlete, and her mother still smoked around her all of the time – at home, in the car, etc. I think we can all agree that smoking is bad. It’s one thing to do it to yourself, it’s another to subject it to those who can’t choose otherwise. If I were the mother whose child had been exposed to smoke, I’d be pretty angry that I wasn’t told about it in advance and didn’t have the choice to prevent the exposure.

  4. Vanna Keiler

    To smoke, or not to smoke: that is the question. My father was a smoker (quit, after 25 years), my husband was a smoker (quit), and I have great (not just good!) friends who are smokers. But the general consensus regarding etiquette seems to be: if it will irritate, annoy or otherwise cause health or other problems for others confined together in a venue for an amount of time, whatever it is, for the sake of all concerned and general merriment: don’t do it!

    However, some people are oblivious to their actions, and perhaps were never previously approached (confronted?) by non-smokers visiting their home. Or, perhaps they have not entertained much in their home and had to deal with the issues of smoking. I suggest approaching this from the point of view of blissful ignorance (the smoker), and kindly either mention the smoking to the host next time around before attending the event (without sounding judgmental), or as most posters have written above, politely decline the invite if the event will be indoors, at the smoker’s abode. It can be a win-win for smokers and non-smokers alike.

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