Segregated Smokers: Inside vs. outside

by epi on August 9, 2012

Q: Is it appropriate for management to provide an outside table for smokers to eat at (so they can enjoy the sunshine and still be able to smoke during lunch) while only providing an inside table for the nonsmokers (so they aren’t subjected to the smoke, but are left to bask in the fluorescent lighting)?

A: Most likely, management put the smokers’ table outside so nonsmokers would be spared second-hand smoke — not so they could enjoy the sunshine.  It’s probably pretty uncomfortable out there on cold days, or when it snows or rains.  But the real issue here has to do with the nonsmokers’ lack of access to an outside table.  Do the other nonsmokers feel the same way you do?  If not, you may want to consider whether this is an issue you want to take on.  If others do share your concern, I suggest that as a group you ask management to create an outside area for nonsmokers as well, putting it at a comfortable distance away from the smokers’ table.  That way, nonsmokers and smokers alike can enjoy eating outdoors during nice weather.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Ashley August 9, 2012 at 9:31 am

This is a classic example of how smokers are provided with special treatment. It’s amazing the lengths people will go to make it easy for them to poison everyone around them and how willing companies are to accommodate a 15 min break every half hour. People who don’t smoke wouldn’t last a week at work, if they took a 15 min “fresh air” break every half hour. Yet somehow this is tolerated as “normal” for smokers? It’s beyond ridiculous.

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Zakafury August 9, 2012 at 10:33 am

This is a classic example of the self-righteous behavior engaged in by judgmental nonsmokers. Putting a table outside and failing to post a “no smoking” sign does not constitute special treatment.

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Just Laura August 9, 2012 at 10:41 am

Good morning, Ashley. I don’t smoke (and really don’t care for it one bit), but most workplaces don’t allow smokers to take breaks quite that frequently. Perhaps you were speaking in hyperbole, though, in which case I understand. You and my mother would get along well. She also considers smokers to be poisoning her air.

I want to add that some places may not have a lot of outside room for their patrons. My husband’s establishment, for example, has only a small front porch where two tables can fit. Anyone can sit out there – smokers or nonsmokers (our inside is non-smoking only; it is one of the few bars in the state that is non-smoking). However, usually smokers sit out there, and a non-smoker would simply have to deal with second-hand smoke. We’re sorry for that, but there simply isn’t room outside for a separate section.

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polite punk August 9, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Not that a personal incident really matters, but my first job out of college was working at a paint your own pottery studio. Both the manager and assistant managers were smokers and staff were allowed to take smoke breaks whenever they wanted (most took at least 1 an hour). However, if someone wanted to go across the street to pick up coffee or a snack, you were only allowed to do it on the 15 minute break that you were given every 4 hours…even though it took less time than smoking a cigarette.

In the case of this particular question, I think it’s up to each establishment to decide who they want to cater to. Many bars allow smoking at their outside tables and non-smokers should be allowed to sit there as well, if they wish. On the other hand, I know a few local places that don’t allow any smoking outside and encourage patrons to take their cigarettes out to either the side street or the back entrance (of course, this means parting with their drinks temporarily).

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Just Laura August 9, 2012 at 5:12 pm

I like and appreciate reading others’ personal incidents. They are an example from real life.

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Winifred Rosenburg August 9, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Ashley: I feel your pain. Many workplaces do in fact favor smokers. However, I’m not sure if this is one of those cases. Something that annoys me greatly as a non-smoker is when smokers gather around a doorway so anyone walking outside is forced to walk through a cloud of smoke. Is it possible the smoker’s table was put there to encourage smokers to move to this table instead of smoking right outside the door?

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Elizabeth August 9, 2012 at 11:43 am

I would venture to guess that the price of sitting at the outdoor table is not actually smoking. I’m not sure what prevents a group of non-smokers from heading out there for their break on a nice day. If challenged by a smoker, it would be so easy to say, “I’ve been cooped up all day inside too, and I deserve a pleasant break in the sun as well.”

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Helen August 10, 2012 at 3:36 pm

New Topic! Can I give out art work of my deceased husband’s to just some of the people at the Memorial Service on 8/19/12 in the back yard of our apt. building?

A friend is matting and backing 25 pieces of art my deceased husband did. My thought was to put them in a box at the Memorial Service and have members of the family each choose one and then give numbers to his closest friends so they could each choose one. But there may be hurt feelings (“why did she get to choose before me” or “how come I’m not getting one”). We have enough left over that we could roll and ribbon up enough for other attendees to be handed.
Or should I just ask family members to come early to my apt. the day of the Memorial Service and choose one and then later, on other days, ask friends to stop by and choose one. (I could invite a few over at a time.)
Many thanks for your thoughts. Helen

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Alicia August 12, 2012 at 6:01 am

My sympathy on your loss. I would not do the giveaway during the memorial service. It could take away from the reason and the meaning. Instead do as you suggested over time give people certain special works and they will appreciate it without distracting from the memorial service.

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