Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Smokers

I have seen some of them go outside to smoke every 15 minutes. How can they concentrate or get any work done? I'm glad they aren't allowed to smoke inside, but they should only be allowed to go out three times a day, during breaks.
They are not motivated to quit, because then they have no excuse to get outside and chat with their friends any time they feel like it.
In nice weather, some people spend more time out than in. And they stand right in front of the door, so we have to walk right through their smoke.
I understand they are addicted and helpless. But employers shouldn't make it worse by rewarding them for smoking in this way.

PC
Monday, February 03, 2003

Well, depending on their job, they might be able to keep on working while they go out to smoke. I am a non-smoker myself (as are most of my colleagues), but still I stand up to get a little break, mostl times involving fetching a cup of hot tea from the kitchenette and exchanging a few words with the colleagues I meet there. It does not break my concentration (for as long as I concentrate, I do not feel the need to get up), but it sometimes helps me to clear my head and get rid of a blockade somewhere. I often find bugs or solve other problems directly after returning to my desk.

So, do not envy the smokers of their right to take little breaks, take some yourself, instead. No one keeps up his or her concentration for hours on end, anyway.

ymmv,

Jutta Jordans
Monday, February 03, 2003

I know exactly how you feel.  I have to listen to someone complain about how they don't have enough time to do their work each day, yet I bet she spends at least an hour of her day in the smoke room. 

Matt Watson
Monday, February 03, 2003

Well, I'm not a smoker, personally, but grew up with them and am married to one, so I'm pretty familiar with their situation.

Personally, I think way too much fuss is being made over smoking and second-hand smoke today, but the massive 'herd' is hell-bent on an anti-smoking crusade, so by god they're going to have their crusade. I have to pick my battles. If it were up to me to set policy in an office, I'd let smokers smoke at their desks again (like it was 20+ years ago) if they wanted to; I don't care.

I will say that having joined our smokers outside in the office 'smoke hole', the conversation is almost exclusively development/design related.

It's pretty much like this around the pool table too (we still have one). The pool conversation is normally pretty technical; in fact we have about 8 feet of whiteboard right next to the pool table, on which a significant chunk of various projects' design work ends up at some point. So eventhough the smokers are not at their keyboards during these times, their breaks are typically very 'productive' breaks.

At least that's how it is in our shop, might be different in others' I suppose.

anonQAguy
Monday, February 03, 2003

Well, i'm an ex-smoker so I can offer some thoughts on the subject...

There is a positive side to smoke breaks - it really improves the networking because you end up standing around talking to people who you wouldn't normally mix with. In the past I've found this quite invaluable for making contacts in the organisation and because you meet them on a social level they are more inclined to be helpful in the work context.

I used to use smoke breaks to take an opportunity to pace up and down outside of the building far away from the madding crowd trying to get my head around problems. And it really used to work..

Limiting smokers to a certain number of breaks during the day is not productive. Unless you've smoked you really cannot appreciate just how nicotine cravings can affect the mental state.

Smokers on the whole do not mind social exclusion and do not wish to inflict their smoking on other people. I don't think smoker use smoking as an excuse to avoid work.. any more than the chap who spends 15 minutes talking to his colleague about last weekend's activities or the chap who disappears off to the lavvy with the latest Computer Weekly.

A smoker will only succeed in giving up when they have decided that they will give up for themselves. No amount of persuasion, coercion, threats or ill-treatment will make a smoker give up if he hasn't made the decision for himself.

I've given up 3 times. First time for 18 months, then for 9 months and latterly for 6 months. I prefer life as a non-smoker. Smoking is unintelligent. It's dangerous. It affects the mental state. I primarily gave up because of health reasons. I still quite like the occasional (e.g. once a month) joint although there's always a risk this could lead back to full time smoking (hence I make a policy never to actually own any of the doings; it would be far too risky!).

One of the biggest things (annoyances) I found was just how much smoking affected my mental state. Immediately after a cigarette my pulse would be increased and my brain would be slightly foggy and I would find it hard to concentrate fully. No sooner had the fog dispersed than I would be feeling the need once more. I think this is something that affected just me in this way; other smokers I've spoken to haven't related the same exerience. Perhaps they were just more hardened.

Nicotine is reportedly the most addictive substance; more so that herion or crack cocaine.

Whilst I don't like living in a nanny-state I do think that the governments should make more effort to stamp out smoking. Not by attacking existing smokers but by stopping new ones. In the UK the legal age of smoking is currently 16. In practice it's a lot lower. But what if the 16 limit was vigorously enforced? And what about if it was raised by one year every year? The UK government shamelessly profits from the sale of tobacco yet they accept no social responsibility for the smoking population. There is little incentive for them to improve the situation when they make so much revenue.

Gwyn
Monday, February 03, 2003

"Unless you've smoked you really cannot appreciate just how nicotine cravings can affect the mental state"

I'm glad this wasn't your only argument in favor of smoke breaks, or else we'd also have to provide drug breaks for people addicted to other substances. How about beer breaks for people like me who like a brew?

I don't think theres anything wrong with taking the odd break from work to smoke, get a coffee, or whatever. I judge others and want to be judged myself on whether or not I deliver results, not how long i spent hunched up over my monitor and desk each day.

I also don't think that computer weekly is something you should sneak off into the lavvy to read either. Isn't keeping on top of the industry news part of the job? And doesn't the chance to talk to others while smoking, or getting a coffee also help meet that role?

Robert Moir
Monday, February 03, 2003

Whats the difference between taking a smoke break and going outside to have a beer?  Being a non-smoker, I imagine if I did decide to go out and have a cig that the effects of the nicotine on my brain would be much more severe than that of one beer.

apw-non smoker wanting a beer break
Monday, February 03, 2003

"I'm glad this wasn't your only argument in favor of smoke breaks, or else we'd also have to provide drug breaks for people addicted to other substances. How about beer breaks for people like me who like a brew?"

If you employed a drug addict you would expect the guy to behave like a drug addict (he can't help it) and therefore you'd need to make allowances for his addiction.

Similarly with smokers. If you're not prepared to accept their needs then don't employ them! But don't employ someone who tells you that he's a smoker and then start saying 'I wish he didn't have all the negative attributes of a smoker'!

Gwyn
Monday, February 03, 2003

"Whats the difference between taking a smoke break and going outside to have a beer?  Being a non-smoker, I imagine if I did decide to go out and have a cig that the effects of the nicotine on my brain would be much more severe than that of one beer."

I think you're confusing preference with addiction. You might like a beer but the smoker NEEDS nicotine.

If anyone wants to see just how mind altering a nicotine imbalance can be then chew a piece of nicotine chewing gum or slap a nicotine patch on. The mental state you will experience is of the same degree as an addict experiences when he experiences nicotine withdrawal.

Gwyn
Monday, February 03, 2003

Gwyn wrote:
"I think you're confusing preference with addiction. You might like a beer but the smoker NEEDS nicotine."

That wasn't my point.  The point being that if I went outside and smoked a cig no one would give it a second thought, but if I was drinking a pint of Guinness I would probably be fired.

apw-non smoker wanting a beer break
Monday, February 03, 2003

"Personally, I think way too much fuss is being made over smoking and second-hand smoke today, but the massive 'herd' is hell-bent on an anti-smoking crusade, so by god they're going to have their crusade. I have to pick my battles. If it were up to me to set policy in an office, I'd let smokers smoke at their desks again (like it was 20+ years ago) if they wanted to; I don't care."

If you don't have allergies, then it's not surprising you can't understand how sick cigarette smoke makes some people.  It never ceases to amaze me how easily people will dismiss the health risks of smoking and second-hand smoke, calling it a "crusade" as if it has no reasonable basis.  But then there's a flat earth society too; I suppose some people will believe anything, science be damned.

"Smokers on the whole do not mind social exclusion and do not wish to inflict their smoking on other people."

Of the thousands of smokers I have met in my life, I have encountered exactly ONE who asked if I minded before she lit up.  She was the most polite smoker I ever met: Kept her little cloud around her instead of blowing it in all directions, and kept her ash ground down so it didn't float everywhere through the air.  Only smoker I ever met who I could stand to be in the same room with while she smoked.  Of course, now she doesn't smoke anymore: she started coughing up blood one day and it scared her enough that she quit.  Now she complains about how bad her friends' houses smell with all the smoke.  <g>

Getting back to programming topics, I do agree that the occasional head-clearing break is a good and necessary thing.  My best insights come when I'm not sitting at a PC.

Kyralessa
Monday, February 03, 2003

Second-hand smoke makes me feel like I can't breath and am about to vomit. Nicotine is a drug from hell (unlike caffiene which has only positive effects for me).
I agree that getting away from the computer is necessary and so is talking to people. I have considered getting fake cigarettes so I can go outside whenever I want.

PC
Monday, February 03, 2003

As a smoker and (small) company owner, I'm starting to think about employing only smoking people. Probably would make or lives easier.

Smokinguy
Monday, February 03, 2003

Sorry Kyralessa I should have qualified that statement:

"AT WORK smokers on the whole do not mind social exclusion and do not wish to inflict their smoking on other people."

Outside of work I would respect non-smoking areas but if there is no policy (like in a pub) then I would smoke without asking permission. Which is a probably a bit naughty. If I came to your house I'd ask or just step outside but if you came to my house then you'd have to put up with it!

ps. Went to a place in New Hampshire a couple of years back where you couldn't smoke in the bar but you couldn't take a drink outside of the bar. That was REALLY annoying!

Luckily (for smokers) most British pubs do not have non-smoking policies.

Gwyn
Monday, February 03, 2003

Give me a break. Smoking just plain sucks.

It's not fun to have to deal with smoke when you walk in and out of your building, nor is it fun for your clients.

It's also not fun to deal with other people that constantly reek of stale smoke because they take a smoke break every half hour.

Super
Monday, February 03, 2003

Yep, there's no social exclusion in pubs.

Except for those of us sufficiently allergic to cigarette smoke that the air in most pubs is life-threatening. We don't get that degree of social freedom. Of course it's not serious enough to bother anyone so while pubs have to have ramps and accessible loos and have to admit guide dogs, some of us end up having having to simply not go out with friends when their plans involve "popping into a pub for a bit".

My other half smoked when we started dating. He stopped, basically, because before he come near me after popping outside for a cigarette he had to change clothing and wash his hair - the smoke in his hair from one cigarette was enough to trigger allergy reactions.

Personally, I'm really keen on this whole "don't smoke in public" thing. I don't try and stop other people breathing, I don't see why they think they have a right granted to them by almighty god to try and stop me breathing or deny me access to bits of the world with threats of it.

Katie Lucas
Monday, February 03, 2003

This is too perfect a setup.  No social exclusion in pubs? Perhaps you haven't read the news ;)

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/31/international/europe/31IREL.html?ex=1044939600&en=8d3f9fb9d08e8d5d&ei=5062&partner=GOOGLE

Rick
Monday, February 03, 2003

Do we want to control how people think, when they take break, and how much TIME they spend at their desks?
Shouldn't we just care about the result?

'One famous computer researcher who made a lot of discoveries in the computer field said that his firm lost several million dollars because they did not install a $14,000 shower in his office, since all his good ideas come when he's showering. When he moved to a new firm that had a shower, his ideas kept coming out.'

source: http://www.chaosengineers.co.nz/papers/the%20psychology%20of%20programming.html

My 2 cents
Monday, February 03, 2003

>> I used to use smoke breaks to take an opportunity to pace up and down outside of the building far away from the madding crowd trying to get my head around problems. And it really used to work.. <<

I don't smoke, but I can totally see this. Not to be crass, but there have been many times that I've been sitting on the pot and wished I had a notepad.  Some of my best ideas come then.

The value in getting away from the desk and having a moment to think about things should not be under-rated.

So, I don't think it's a big deal for smokers to go trotting off and "waste" company time.  The key thing is to manage by objectives and results - not by the clock.

Non-smoker
Monday, February 03, 2003

I'm surprised how few smokers have posted on this.  We must be a dying breed (pun intended).

I personally smoke at our office and take approximately four breaks a day.  I concur with those who said it was nice to mix with people who aren't necessarily on your project.  I can't tell how many problems I've solved outside with a cigarette in my hand, talking to other smokers.  It was usually only 1 or 2 minutes into the smoke before someone outside said "So I've got this problem with a COM DLL I'm writing..."  You can't get that kind of think tank indoors, because if you just walked up to random people in your building who aren't on your project and asked for some advice, you'd get blown off.

As for smoking at your desk, no way.  First off, I'd smoke 10 times as much, and would be probably be dead in a matter of weeks.  I was really surprised to find that only one person Kyralissa met had asked before lighting up.  If I'm with non-smokers at a bar or restaurant, I'll move to another table to have a cigarette, by myself, and then rejoin my group afterwards.  As for people smoking outside the entrance, that's just ridiculous.  Everywhere I worked we had a place, in the back of the building, where only smokers were.  To smoke by an entrance, and have clients and employees walking through that, is just silly.

Anyway, I feel like I have to say all this because smokers already have a bad reputation, and not ALL of them are inconsiderate jerks.

Dignified
Monday, February 03, 2003

I used to smoke four packs a day of Marlboro Reds (when I was younger II was on six packs of Gauloises but I cut down).

Then thirteen months ago I stopped, and haven't had a cigarette since. As you can't smoke in educational buildings, even offices, I used to go out the door for a couple of cigarettes every hour or so. I obviously no longer do so. The effect on my productivity of the time "gained" has been PRECISELY ZERO.

Stephen Jones
Monday, February 03, 2003

After quitting my productivity went to zero briefly and subsequently trickled back to normal over the ensuing 3 months.  Remind me, is nicotine a stimulant?

6 packs a day?!?

Just Say No
Monday, February 03, 2003

I quit during the holdiays so did not get time to notice any productivity hit.

On coming back I found that I was prodiucing the same as before, no more, no less.

The 6 packs a day would be at weekends, when I was in my twenties. In the week I would smoke a pack less, so I would normally be smoking four packs a day at weekends and three in the week. I did this for thirty years.

My health incidentally is no different after quitting than before, except I've gained more weight than I wanted to.

Stephen Jones
Monday, February 03, 2003

Oh come on. Just because you haven't noticed a difference after only one month, you can't claim that quitting smoking does nothing to improve your health.
Before, you were taking poison every day all day long. Now you stopped, and it might take a long time before you feel better.

PC
Monday, February 03, 2003

And furthermore:
You have no idea how bad you really feel.

PC
Monday, February 03, 2003

PC where do you get the "only one month" from. I very clearly stated 13 months, more than enough time to notice.

I may add that if anything I feel less fit, but I don't put that down to not smoking!

Reality doesn't always fiit your prejudices!

Stephen Jones
Monday, February 03, 2003

Sorry I had missed the 13 month post.
But if you feel worse after quitting,
that obviously is related to other aspects of your lifestyle.
Keep in mind that your brain will be in a constant fog if you neglect the health of your body.

PC
Monday, February 03, 2003

The hopeless semantic in me is screaming but I would hesitate to send my children down the 6 pack a day road in a ludicrous attempt to snub my nose.  Just my own peccadillo I'm sure.

And for some completely worthless anecdotes Gran has smoked moderately heavily for 74 years while Ma is withering from emphysema and lung cancer at 66. Ever watch that?  Now there's some entertainment!


"Oh dark mother!  Once more I suckle at your smokey teat!" ~ Gunther

Just Say No
Monday, February 03, 2003

Gwyn Wrote:

"Similarly with smokers. If you're not prepared to accept their needs then don't employ them! But don't employ someone who tells you that he's a smoker and then start saying 'I wish he didn't have all the negative attributes of a smoker'!"

I'd have a chat to your lawyer before you tried asking interviewees whether they smoked or not. Pretty sure that wouldn't be legal.

On the other hand, who needs to ask? You can usually smell a heavy smoker as soon as they get within 10 meters.

Andrew Reid
Monday, February 03, 2003

"How about beer breaks for people like me who like a brew?"

Whats Wrong With Having A Beer at your desk?

Daniel Shchyokin
Monday, February 03, 2003

If people want to take drugs that make them stupid or crazy I don't care, as long as they stay off the highway.
But drugs that fill the air and get into everyone's lungs are a different story. I do not want to take nicotine or marijuana and should never be forced to.

PC
Monday, February 03, 2003

I don't want to breathe carcinogenic fossil fuel emmisions, and I shouldn't ever be forced to, so everyone should stop driving their cars, flying their planes, running their lawnmowers, and so on.

bah
Monday, February 03, 2003

They don't have to stop, but it wouldn't hurt to cut back. Walk or bicycle if you can, and the air will be cleaner and you will be healthier.

PC
Monday, February 03, 2003

As an employer, is there any reason I can't discriminate based on smoking?  I feel quite ill to my stomach if I'm in the same room as someone who just came back from a smoke.

So if they're in the office, I can't function.  Sucks to be me, but that's my reality...

Yes, I could miss out on some genius smoking coder, but so far I haven't found that to be the case.  Thoughts?

anon
Monday, February 03, 2003

I’ve never smoked. I’ve never been interested in smoking. I hate going to a restaurant and coming out smelling like smoke. I would really hate it if someone smoked in the office.

All that said, I think government needs to stop messing with smokers. I don’t believe that we need new laws regarding smoking in the U.S. I think we have way too many laws now. We don’t need more. The only problem with our government in the U.S. is that our leaders are endlessly making new laws. We’ve got some great laws now, lets slow down a little on the law thing!

We haven’t made a crime free paradise with all our billions of laws against killing and guns. It’s illegal to kill people in the U.S. in every way imaginable. You can even get in more trouble for killing them if you ‘hated them’ –which seems very stupid to me, “I didn’t hate her, I just raped her.” It’s the beginning of a thought police. All of this has not stopped crime and it is unlikely that 20,000 more laws would either.

I could care less if people in the office go out twenty times a day to smoke. As long as they don’t work for me and as long as I don’t own the company, I could really care less what they do.

Just as long as I don’t have to smell that stuff from my desk.

Tobacco Smoke Hater
Monday, February 03, 2003

Yeah, right, guys...

And please do the same to the other dangerous grug - caffeine! I just hate that coffee smell. And those addicts, can you believe, they are going to kitchen every hour to take their dose. Disgusting!

;)

raindog
Monday, February 03, 2003

I'm a smoker and I don't mind rules and laws limiting my ability to smoke in public places.  I am all for them.  That includes the workplace.  I don't think people should be required to breathe second hand smoke, period.  I think it does matter how many breaks you take (smoking or othewise), because if you think no one cares how many breaks you take, you end up smoking (or chatting) more.  A smoker is just some one who wants to quit.  A little encouragement, or a few rules, may be all it takes to actually do so.     

Java consultant
Monday, February 03, 2003

It's interesting that in certain Soviet organization there was a rule:

If you are a smoker, you have official rights to take 10 minutes break every x hours, but if you are not-smoker, you can't stop working (except for lunch break). As a result, almost 100% started to smoke in those organizations.

raindog
Monday, February 03, 2003

I've found that people who complain about smokers are usually the same ones who complain about everything else.

I only find smoking unacceptable when I'm eating, otherwise, break a lung.

Alberto
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Yeah, while we're at it....

That Business Analyst chick that chats to her friends half the day should have her pay docked.

And the indian guy eating his curry for lunch every day makes me want to chuck. Banish him to the outdoors.

The newbie who wont RTFM and keeps hassling me decreases my productivity. He's got to go.

The fat chick who takes up too much room in the corrider as she slowly ambles along is restricting freedom of movement and is an OH&S hazard. She must be banned from access to the fridge.

Right, Who's next?

Stasi
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Next they'll be trying to ban masturbation under the desk!

Devil's Advocate
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

"I don't smoke, but I can totally see this. Not to be crass, but there have been many times that I've been sitting on the pot and wished I had a notepad. Some of my best ideas come then."

A colleague and I used to joke about this, when I'd come into the room offering a new perspective on some previously unresolved issue. Instead of announcing I had a new idea, I'd inform him that I had just returned from the toilet...

Had to be there, I guess
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

"I don't want to breathe carcinogenic fossil fuel emmisions, and I shouldn't ever be forced to, so everyone should stop driving their cars, flying their planes, running their lawnmowers, and so on."

Life isn't black and white, that's for sure.

But, smoking is a personal choice and affects a person and her immediate surrounding. Stopping removes the impact on the surrounding, without having to give up on anything in life, except the immediate effects of smoking.

You can't erradicate the negative side effects of driving or flying, without society as a whole giving up on other worthwhile aspects as well.

So, every one on the planet can give up smoking and society as a whole would not be worse of. Not so for cars or planes (now).

Not to menion that the concentration of the polution by smoking and driving is entirely different.

You can easily avoid breathing fumes by avoiding standing in the middle of higways. Something you are likely to want to do anyway.
In the majority of places, if not all, that you'd want to be, the concentration of exhausts are minute compared to that of sigaret smoke.

Practical Geezer
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

I am not someone who complains about everything. I can see various perspectives on most political questions, so I am never a fanatic or extremist. In fact, I can't stand it when people are one-sided extremists about, for example, environmentalism.
Smoking is, however, one problem I feel strongly about because it is a simple question of right vs. wrong. If smokers aren't restricted by laws, then my life, freedom and health is seriously restricted by them.
There is nothing good about smoking, so I would feel no guilt about depriving someone of the right to smoke.
Second hand tobacco smoke cannot be fairly compared to drugs that are ingested, injected or inhaled. If you are a smoker, or if you are not sensitive to nicotine, you can't possibly appreciate what it's like to be involuntarily forced to breath second hand smoke. To me, and to most non-smokers I have spoken to, it is like being forced to take poison that makes you sick. In the short term it is nauseating and ruins the quality of life completely. In the long term, if you are exposed every day, you wind up with the cardiovascular and circulatory problems that smokers willingly inflict on themselves.
If you are a smoker and still young you probably are not thinking about how this will likely catch up with you during middle age. You probably are not considering that artery disease and circulation problems not only lead to heart attacks and strokes. So what, you think, death would be quick and relatively painless. No, there will probably be years and years when your intellectual functioning is decreased and your brain gradually stops working. Sounds like fun?
"So what?" you think, I'll be over the hill then, who cares if my brain functions or not. Well when you actually get to be 40 or 50 you  might be surprised to see you value life even more than you do now. Yes, life gets better for most people, not worse. So take care of your health and stop smoking so you can appreciate it.
There is something else that smokers and smoker's rights advocates seldom consider: Smoke is not necessarily confined by walls. We need laws for apartment buildings, not just for public places.



PC
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

>>> If you don't have allergies, then it's not surprising you can't understand how sick cigarette smoke makes some people. <<<

>>> Except for those of us sufficiently allergic to cigarette smoke that the air in most pubs is life-threatening.<<<

Are there people who are allergic to tobacco smoke?  As a non-smoker who grew up in a non-smoking home, I find that tobacco smoke is very irritating.  If I sit in a room with people smoking for very long I can be rather sick for hours afterward.  But this is not an allergy.  It is a normal reaction to nicotine, which is highly toxic.  It has been used as an insecticide.  Since it is a botanically produced chemical it is possible that people may develop an allergy to it, but I suspect that many people confuse a normal reaction to a highly toxic substance with an allergic reaction to it.

z
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

I am allergic to cigarette smoke being asthmatic. It really sucks.

But that being said, I don't mind smokers in the same area (such as a bar) as long as they respect my space and don't blow smoke in my face. I find the focus on smoking these days pretty funny considering how many restrictions are being placed on smokers, such as no smoking in public places that are outside. I mean, is smoke gonna kill you outside? Pretty soon you'll have to go off the plant to take a smoke break.

The pendullum swings from far left to far right.

Ian Stallings
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

That's right. I am not allergic to smoke, it just makes me sick. And every non-smoker I've spoken to on this subjects feels the same way.

I would also like to add:
I have nothing personal against the smokers I know at work, and they have no idea that I hate smoking. I just think the policy of unlimited cigarette breaks makes it harder for them to quit. If they try to quit, they see all their friends going out without them, and there is pressure to go back to smoking.

PC
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

[Second-hand smoke makes me feel like I can't breath and am about to vomit. Nicotine is a drug from hell (unlike caffiene which has only positive effects for me).]

Funny, I feel the same way about coffee breath bandits that breath starbucks finest in my face. I hate coffee soI guess it should be banned. We'll have to legislate this of course and start a national fund showing the ills of coffee and why it is dangerous. We'll make Stabucks pay for their own demise. But don't worry, that money will get sent right back to them through state ran grants to boost local economies. Legislate that, it's the American way

Ian Stallings
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

It's very silly to think that coffee is as dangerous as tobacco. And if you don't like a person's breath, just don't get so close. One person smoking in a room can fill the room with nicotine and tar, and the many poisonous chemicals added by the cigarette companies. Anyone in that room takes in the same chemicals as the smoker. There is scientific evidence that there are long-term health consequences for non-smokers who live in smoke-filled rooms. And, as many non-smokers can testify, the short-term consequences are burning eyes, nausea, coughing, choking and general misery.

PC
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Dear PC,
              You don't like the smell of cigarette smoke. Other people don't like the smell of coffee, cauliflower, perfume or people; I personally dislike the visual pollution of the obese, who to make things worse normally also have bad skin, bad hair and bad dress sense. Having them around my area makes me sick, less productive, and brings the price of my house down.

              The symptoms you suggest are the result of bad ventilation, not that tobacco smoke is uniquely harmful. Your comments on second hand smoke verge on the hysterical.

              As for the statement, "it's right v. wrong" that tells us a lot about yourself but very little about the issue.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

You're being ridiculous Stephen. I don't care about the smell of cigarette smoke. This is not a question of aesthetics. I don't like to feel I'm being poisoned by dangerous drugs and chemicals. If I took a survey I could prove to you that most non-smokers feel this way. And there is more than enough scientific evidence about the harmful effects of these chemicals on smokers and the non-smokers around them.

PC
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

I wrote that tongue in cheek. Apparently second hand smoke also affects your sense of humor.

As many non coffee drinkers can testify second hand coffee breath can have serious, if not irrepairable damage to your image. People will avoid you. Women will loathe you. Friends wil talk about what happened to you and shake their head. Sad, so sad.

Coffee not only stains your teeth but contains a very addictive drug, caffeine. Caffeine can inhibit your judgement causing accidents and too much* can kill you!

*too much = 1 ton of caffeine dropped on your head.

Ian Stallings
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

>>>f I took a survey I could prove to you that most non-smokers feel this way.<<<<

If you take a survey you can prove that most people are totally irrational with regard to nearly everything.

Your claim that you are being "poisoned" by second hand cigarette smoke is comical, unless you actually live in an unventilated room with somebody who smokes six packs a day of Capstan Full Strength, oir work in the snug room of a smokers pub.

You are much more likely to be poisoned by all the chemicals from the exhaust gases in cars, particularly if you ride a bicycle, but in the States smokers are fair game but drivers rignts are sacrosanct.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

>>>>too much* can kill you!

*too much = 1 ton of caffeine dropped on your head. <<<<<

I'm down to about ten cups of coffee a working day, after drinking as many as thirty, and in fact caffeine can have serious effects on your nervous system. It's also present in massive quantitites in Coca-Cola.

Well over thirty years ago amphetamines such as caffeine were the illegal drug of choice for competition cyclists; it was only after various of them collapsed and died that investigations were made and the drug was banned and replaced by less detectable alternatives.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

z asked: "are there people who are allergic to tobacco smoke?"

I don't know or care whether tobacco smoke actually qualifies as an "allergy" by a technical definition, since it contains so many poisons and irritants.

However, for people with asthma such as myself, tobacco smoke often can trigger serious breathing difficulties. The resulting attack can mean hospitalization or even death.

Personally I have much more severe attacks to certain brands, while other second-hand smoke (eg wood smoke, and interestingly, pot) does not cause problems.

In my case, it also makes a difference if the smoke is airborne or not as to whether the effect is so severe that I am rolling around on the floor trying to breathe (an apparently scary and definitely embarrassing sight), or (more normally) I am simply sick with terribly sore throat, itchy/running eyes, aching ears and a heaving cough for a week or so.

There are many people with much more severe reactions than I ever have had.  You may never have met them, particularly if you live in a society where smoking is allowed in public areas, or if you are a smoker.  That's because those of us that have problems with smoke that go beyond the "serious dislike of smoke" arrange our lives such that we minimize our contact with it.

Unlike the implication (by Stephen Jones) in the following quote: "You (PC) don't like the smell of cigarette smoke. Other people don't like the smell of coffee, cauliflower, perfume or people."

It's not a question of likes or dislikes - it's a question of staying alive.

anon
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

>>> The symptoms you suggest are the result of bad ventilation, not that tobacco smoke is uniquely harmful. <<<

I do have a disagreement with DeMarco and Lister.  In Peopleware they disparaged companies that banned microwave popcorn because the odor was unprofessional.  I like popcorn, but strong odors can be as distracting as noise in the workplace.  Office should try to avoid strong odors such as cooking fish or popcorn in the microwave, stale coffee, as well as tobacco smoke.  Better ventilation might help, but some sources are worse than others.

One problem with tobacco smoke is that it IS uniquely harmful.  There are a lot of widespread air pollutants to worry about, but off hand I can't think of any source of pollution that individuals give off in their offices that are as toxic.

z
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Thanks to a few previous posters for the public service announcements.  I needed the reminder about the chemistry, biology, and politics of nicotine addiction because the constant barrage of propaganda in the media just wasn't enough of a fix.

Aside from all the unsupported statements of "fact" in earlier posts, obviously gleaned mostly from television commercials, let me comment on the following statement:

"There is nothing good about smoking, so I would feel no guilt about depriving someone of the right to smoke. "

This sort of rationalization for co-opting control of someone else's life is easily as dangerous as any of the dubious effects of so-called "second hand smoke."  If I don't have the basic right to determine what does or does not go into my body, then how can you say I have any rights that are exclusively mine, at all?  The danger in such a proposition should be obvious.

And before you argue that you have a similar right and therefore shouldn't be subject to second-hand smoke, the answer is that you do have the same right.  The way you enforce it is what is at issue.  The way for you to enforce it that least tramples on the rights of others is to leave the area where you are exposed to second-hand smoke or not go there in the first place.

We have "public property" owned by various governments, so I think it's fair that majority rule applies to whether smoking is or is not permitted there.  What I object to is being told what I can do on my own property, in my house or in my business, especially under threat of force or fine.

Also, just to be clear, I am not a smoker and never have been.  I dislike the smell of smoke, and I generally don't go places where I know I will likely find people smoking.

By the way,

"And there is more than enough scientific evidence about the harmful effects of these chemicals on smokers and the non-smokers around them. "

Can anyone point to a peer-reviewed study that demonstrates this thesis about harmful effects on non-smokers?  I have never seen any compelling evidence, but would be interested in looking at it if it exists.

bah
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

"I can't think of any source of pollution that individuals give off in their offices that are as toxic."

http://shellz.freeservers.com/office-killing.htm

"Stagnant office air also circulates the residue of as many as 350 VOCs that are emitted by building materials, furnishings, and office machines. For example, most office paints contain solvents that can cause everything from eye, nose, and throat irritation to digestive and central nervous system damage. Carpeting sometimes contains PVCs that give off the carcinogen dioxin. Furniture is often made of particle board that is bonded with resins made with carcinogen-containing formaldehyde. That's not to mention the pesticides and cleaning products swabbed over offices that, according to the EPA, may also contain carcinogens that can be discharged into the office air."

Hey, one of my personall dislikes is the smell of people pealing an orange.

Just me (Sir to you)
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

>>>>>>>>>It's not a question of likes or dislikes - it's a question of staying alive. <<<<<<<<<<

Are you seriously suggesting that tobacco smoke is the only allergen that can cause life-threatening attacks?

If we tried to ban all allergens then we would probably have to ban life, period.

There has been a massive increase in allergies, particulary asthma over the last twenty or thirty years. We are talking about more than 20% of the younger generation being affected.

The most likely culprit is personal hygiene. We kill off so many natural irritants that the immune system adapts by reacting to quite harmless substances.

If you are worried about the health of your young child, it's possibly not tobacco smoke you should be trying to keep him away from, but soap.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

"You don't like the smell of cigarette smoke. Other people don't like the smell of coffee, cauliflower, perfume or people; I personally dislike the visual pollution of the obese, who to make things worse normally also have bad skin, bad hair and bad dress sense. Having them around my area makes me sick, less productive, and brings the price of my house down."

You really are one of the most inane posters Stephen, spewing your semi-informed propaganda hither and yon. Surely you don't really believe that cigarette smoke is a matter of personal smell preference. No one dies from eating cauliflower or smelling coffee, though perhaps it is true that some asthmatics have died from excess perfume.

That said, I do respect the fact you post with an email address.

Dennis Atkins
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Dear Dennis,
                    Nearly all  people who die of cigarette smoke are smokers.

                    The evidence of the effect of so-called second hand smoke is tenuous. Most of the proven cases have been peiople who have shared small unventilated spaces with heavy smokers for a period of thirty years or more.

                    This situation does not happen any more in the States or most of Europe.

                    Smokers have allowed themselves to be demonized by a collection of stuck-up prigs whose main pleasure in life is pretending to be hard done by..

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

>>> "I can't think of any source of pollution that individuals give off in their offices that are as toxic."

http://shellz.freeservers.com/office-killing.htm <<<

An interesting article, but not a response to the statement about toxic emissions given off by individuals.

z
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Regarding nicotine, Z wrote:
" but I suspect that many people confuse a normal reaction to a highly toxic substance with an allergic reaction to it. "

If you consider nicotine "highly toxic", what label do you apply to things such as Cyanide, VX or Mustard gas? If you consider nicotine "highly toxic" then these other chemicals surely must rank as "super duper extra duper toxic" huh?

Toxic is one of those fun words that armchair chemist like to toss around to describe anything that has the potential for ill-health. Is nicotine dangerous? Of course it is. But in light of chemicals that can kill you in seconds , I think it's laughable to call it "highly toxic".

I Hate Whiners
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

>>Is nicotine dangerous? Of course it is. But in light of chemicals that can kill you in seconds , I think it's laughable to call it "highly toxic".

Actually, in pure form, nicotine *is* highly toxic and was used by the KGB in some of their assassinations (as a dart coating or on the tip of a sharpened umbrella).

jeff
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

>> nicotine *is* highly toxic and was used by the KGB in some of their assassinations

Who told you this, comrade?

kgb
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Actually, the KGB were known to use ricin pellets. The CIA was the one that favored using concentrated nicotine.

CIA
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

I’m a smoker, but I don’t drive.  Dallas is pushing a smoking ban, though I think there are things much worse.  Should I say that because I don’t drive, all drivers are polluting my air, and because I don’t drive, nobody else should be allowed to drive?  It’s the same as!  Drivers are polluting my air, I don’t drive, therefore nobody should be allowed to drive…  Is this the biggest social ill in the world today, or just something for whiners to whine about?

Dallas Chumly
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

This happened a number of posts back from anon:

"...In my case, it also makes a difference if the smoke is airborne or not a..."

WTF?

Just one question:

Anybody ever seen smoke that isn't airborne? What is smoke if it isn't airborne...dirt?

How do you inhale it if it's not airborne?

anonQAguy
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

>>Anybody ever seen smoke that isn't airborne? What is smoke if it isn't airborne...dirt?

At a former company, they had setup one of the conference rooms as a smoking room. Like the other rooms, it had a glass front wall. Unlike the other rooms, it looked like the company had tinted the window - they didn't, it was just the layer of smoke that accumulated on it (even with good ventilation and 'smoke eater' ash trays).

When they converted the room back to being a normal conference room, the maintance people actually had to use razor blades to scrape the crud off. Imagine what lungs look like after a couple of years

jeff
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

>>>  Toxic is one of those fun words that armchair chemist like to toss around to describe anything that has the potential for ill-health. Is nicotine dangerous? Of course it is. But in light of chemicals that can kill you in seconds , I think it's laughable to call it "highly toxic".  <<<

Excerpts from Turkington, "Poisons and Antidotes":
nicotine - A plant alkaloid found in several species of tobacco and an extremely fast-acting poison that, when eaten, can cause blood vessels to collapse and the muscles of respiration to fail...

The information I can find on cyanide states: "Death is due to respiratory arrest" [Hazardous Chemicals Desk Reference].  So while it may act in seconds it takes minutes for the victim to actually die.

Another interesting point of comparison is that the OSHA permissible exposure limit for cyanide is ten times higher than for nicotine.  One table of LD50 values that I found at a .mil site states that the LD50 for nicotine is only 1/5 that of cyanide.

The information that I have found on LD50 for nicotine is a bit conflicting.  The amount in a pack of cigarettes may be fatal, although some sources indicate it may take the amount in several packs.

Let's be blunt about this: nicotine is five times as toxic as cyanide and will kill you just as fast.  Why is it "laughable" to call it highly toxic?

A significant question here is: Have all the warnings and information about cigarette smoking leading to premature death after 20-40 years of smoking obscured the fact that nicotine is also a poison that will kill in small doses within minutes.

z
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

>>> Should I say that because I don’t drive, all drivers are polluting my air, and because I don’t drive, nobody else should be allowed to drive? <<<

Cars these days have catalytic converters and numerous other features costing hundreds of dollars to reduce pollutants to a fraction of what they were a few decades ago.  If smokers want to put a tent over their head or use some other method of injesting nicotine so that the smoke won't affect other people then I won't complain.

z
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Z

Thanks for some ACTUAL information.  Nuff said!

Just Say No
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Google can find loads of information on the Internet, but sometimes you have to sift through a lot of garbage.  Fortunately, I had some dead tree references.

Now here is one more fun fact about  poisons from "Poisons and Antidotes":  There is toxicity rating for poisons from 1, "practically nontoxic" (it takes a quart to kill you) to 6, "supertoxic" (just a taste or less than 7 drops will kill). Vitamin C and marijuana get a rating of 1, cyanide and nicotine both get a 6, "supertoxic" rating.

z
Tuesday, February 04, 2003

"nicotine is five times as toxic as cyanide and will kill you just as fast.  Why is it "laughable" to call it highly toxic?"

Z, You rock with the facts. I really enjoy watching you kick ass.

Ed the Millwright
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Face it you nicotine rights advocates, a highly toxic substance should not be forced on innocent people. Smokers are irrational on this subject because they are addicted and addiction interferes with rational thought.
I wouldn't mind if nicotine addicts wanted to drink it or inject it directly into their veins; just don't force me to inhale it. I don't force caffeine on anyone.

PC
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Now wait a minute PC, I reckon those posters comparing smoking to car driving have actually got a point. Any able-bodied person who commutes less than 5 miles or so to work by car is not doing it out of necessity; this a life-style decision just a choosing to smoke is.

And driving is certainly damaging to others. The high concentration of lead in childrens brains in pre-unleaded times proved that you don't need to be "sitting in the middle of the highway" to feel the effects of vehicle emissions. Not to mention the environmental aspects of road building or the fact that road accidents are the main single cause of death for 5 - 10 year old children.

This doesn't mean I think cars should be banned. Car drivers pay (in Europe at least) high taxes on their gas - this acts as compensation to society for the destructive effects of driving. Similarly, cigarette smokers pay a hefty premium on each pack, which compensates us for the inconvenience they cause the rest of us.

IMO, this is a reasonable approach. I don't think more laws and bans are a good idea in a free society. Better to let people do what they want, within reason, and tax the things which might inconvenience others.

Sleeper Service
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

>>> Z, You rock with the facts <<<

Thanks, but I do have to jump in with a correction before someone else does it.

This was an interesting topic so I did some more surfing.  It turns out that the numbers published for LD50 values vary quite a bit.  By being selective in what numbers to use one could conclude that nicotine is either 5 times more or 5 times less toxic than cyanide.  It is  still is a small amount of the chemical either way.  I'd say the original point is still valid: nicotine is toxic and is comparable to cyanide in toxicity level.  It is not too surprising that the values aren't precise.  You end up with a lot of dead rats getting those numbers.

There are many other factors to consider in the comparison.  Cyanide is a radical, so you have to specify the particular form: HCN or a cyanide salt.  There was a recent local news story about a high school student using cyanide to poison a classmate.  It took the victim about a day to die, not the "seconds" that might be popularly believed.

Enough bandwidth used up with all these details.  I think there is enough data to show that nicotine can be called "highly toxic".  If someone disagrees, please give a reason.

z
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Given the choice, would you rather spent an afternoon in

a> a closed smokers office inhaling secondary sigaret fumes
b> a closed garage with an SUV, inhaling secondary exhaust fumes

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

"Anybody ever seen smoke that isn't airborne? What is smoke if it isn't airborne...dirt?"

According to Dictionary.com (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Ed), smoke is:

1) The vaporous system made up of small particles of carbonaceous matter in the air, resulting mainly from the burning of organic material, such as wood or coal.
2) A suspension of fine solid or liquid particles in a gaseous medium.
3) A cloud of fine particles.

When I referred to smoke not being airborne, I was really referring to the particles in the smoke (which are the problem).  These settle onto walls, chairs etc etc.  Depending on the kind of material, kind of particle and traffic patterns etc, once the particles have settled, they may or may not be susceptible to becoming airborne later. 

If you are interested in learning more about some of the particles (other than dirt) that are emitted by cigarettes, Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada has a pretty comprehensive (although obviously biased) site. See http://www.smoke-free.ca.

The other thing that you can do (always interesting) is to get one of those automatic smoker things (sometimes sold in curiosity shops). You attach a plastic bag to the intake, and put a cigarette in the other end.  Some of them require pumping, others just work.  Examine the contents of the bag after the cigarette is finished.  Then think about the fact that according to the Canadian Lung Association, your lungs hold onto 85% to 99% of almost all things you inhale.

anon
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

In Soviet Russia, we had  a popular anti-nikotine slogan, that you could see on posters and baners in every hospital:

"1 gramm of nikotine kills a horse!"

Well... It's not obvious, why would horse smoke. But sounds convincing, anyway :)

kgb
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Hey - I agree smoking is unhealthful, likely in the extreme.

I grew up with several heavy smokers in my family, and as a kid, when I washed and cleaned the car, the hardest thing to get clean was the inside of the windows because they were coated with brownish, uh, shit. That was from my folks' cigarettes, clearly (well, the windows certainly weren't clear).

Odd jobs in as a teenager, I did a fair amount of washing customer's cars one summer at a car dealer, and found any number of cars whose interior surfaces -- upholstery, vinyl, dashboards, were coated with sticky, brown goo. Same stuff, because there was no mistaking it was a smoker's car once you got inside it.

Being libertarian, my primary issue with this whole anti-smoking kick is I'm opposed to government legislation about any of it.

Look, I understand the premise of the second hand smoke being that 'hey, if you want to do it to yourself, fine, but it's coming over my way and I can't stop it from doing so, so I'm breathing it and I don't want to be forced to'.

I get it.

Government regulations are normally the last resort anybody should use to try to fix a problem. The more responsibility any of us give to any of our governments to run our lives for us as thinking individuals, our liberty is reduced by exactly that much. No society will ever function perfectly without some inequity or bad luck happening to some of its members; given that, I'd rather err on the side of more freedom and perhaps less perceived safety, than to be completely safe (or at least think I am), because big brother is taking care of me. If we're going to fix the problem of second-hand smoke, I'd much rather we find a different solution than more damned laws.

anonQAguy
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Is it just me, or is this one of those topics where everyone has a vehement viewpoint that will never in a million years change?  (And, therefore, perhaps the topic should die a miserable death....)


P.S.  To Just me (Sir to you):  I have to agree with you on that orange thing.  Also microwave popcorn.

Kyralessa
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

This is an important topic because non-smokers have had their freedom restricted for too long. And the attitude about it has been changing dramatically in a positive direction.
I did not say anything about wanting more laws passed. I said if I owned a business I would not allow employees to spend a third or more of their day out on cigarette breaks.
Non-smokers have made progress in recovering freedom, and it's more because of public opinion than because of laws. The laws just help support and enforce what most people want anyway.
If you are a smoker with children in your house, for example, haven't you been influenced by the research showing that second-hand smoke damages the health of children?
People are seldom convinced by arguments but they are almost always convinced, eventually, by evidence.

PC
Wednesday, February 05, 2003

PC, your nick certainly is fitting.

Ian Stallings
Thursday, February 06, 2003

No, actually I am not usually politically correct, just the opposite. I have hated second-hand smoke for many years, long before it was politically correct to feel that way. I am always out of synch with the fashions, generally think for myself, generally disagree with everyone I know on most subjects. So no, PC does not stand for politically correct.

PC
Thursday, February 06, 2003

I stand corrected. I guess you just feel very fed up with being forced to inhale smoke. I can understand that.

Ian Stallings
Friday, February 07, 2003

Actually I almost never have to inhale second hand smoke, at least not in quantities that bother me. I live in a no-smoking apartment and the office where I work, as I said, does not allow smoking. Most offices seem to be smoke-free these days, thanks to the anti-smoking fanatics.
Apartment houses, on the other hand, don't have any rules about this. Where I can live is therefore restricted, and I resent that. I've had some very bad experiences with second-hand smoke traveling through apartment walls.
I always know when I'm being exposed to toxic levels of nicotine because my heart immediately starts racing, my eyes burn and I feel nauseated. After a while I start choking, and that continues for hours after the exposure. But I can judge the level of nicotine in the air by the immediate effects.
SoI know from my experiences that smoke does not always stay confined within a smoker's walls.

PC
Friday, February 07, 2003

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Cigarettesmania
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Question:  How much company time was wasted by continuing this particular thread over a period of many days?  Anyone care to take a crack at calculating the man-hours involved?  A smoker takes, what, 4-6 smoke breaks per day at an average of 7-10 minutes per break?  How much time did each of you spend to craft your witty, carefully constructed, "fact-supported" responses to one another?  Hmmm...PC's probably the best one to answer as these hours no doubt go on his time card each week.

I'm going to make this as short as a smoke-break and tell the hypocritical, anti-smoker shills in here two things:  First, you and I both know (but several of the posters in here don't) that you get paid to to stir up trouble against smokers (while simultaneously "educating" everyone else) in any and every web-site you can.  Asthma my ass.

Second, there is absolutely NO proof that SHS harms anyone.  Go here for the truth about the SHS whopper and the well-funded anti-smoking cartel who continuously perpetrates these lies for their own enrichment: 

http://www.davehitt.com/facts/index.html

Go here too:  http://www.forces.org

Great job trying to sound like reasonable, everyday Joes.  Now why don't you run off and get a real life?

IKnowWhoYouAre
Monday, March 29, 2004

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