Monday, December 12, 2011

Smelling Smoke

I went out with some friends this weekend, and one of them is a smoker.  This person wishes they were not, but is, so needed a cig break a time or two during the evening.  I woke up the next morning and smelled like smoke.  My hair was smoky, and the clothes from that night made the laundry hamper stinky.

Smoking in Los Angeles is pretty much prohibited everywhere other than your own home. As I’m not a smoker, it hasn’t disrupted me at all, and in fact has made going out to dinner and bars more pleasant.  I know so few people who smoke these days.  Because of that, when I am around it, it’s quite apparent.

What’s funny, is that growing up I was around smokers ALL THE TIME.  My dad smoked, my grandparents smoked, my cousins smoked, and so much of the general public smoked.  The smoke smell was just a part of my life.  I’d have friends comment about smelling smoke on people or places.  Up until the last ten or 15 years, I had no idea what they were talking about.  Now that, due to health reasons or laws, less people smoke and there are fewer places to smoke, I know what clean air smells like.  I am also quite aware when I am around smoking now. 

It’s so rare nowadays to have students come to school smelling like smoke, but when one does they are easy to identify.  I used to be that kid.  I’m sure I wasn’t the only one back in the day, but I was still that kid who came to school emitting smoke fumes.  Our house, car, clothes, hair, everything was smoky.  The food we ate tasted like smoke.  I also had terrible allergies and asthma growing up in a smoker’s home.

Even though I do not look down upon anyone who is a smoker (I’ve seen my fair share of successful and failed attempts to quit smoking and know it’s terribly hard to quit), it is rather nice to not smell that way anymore.  The smoky smell brings back a lot of childhood memories (both good and bad), but it also reminds me that I’m glad I breath relatively clean air most of the time. 


  1. So this guy that you woke up with, who made you smell of smoke, did you at least get his number?
    I also grew up in a house of smoke. In fact, my parent's house is still a chimney and when I'm down there, I can barely breathe. I'm not sure how I did it as a kid. That said, I pity poor smokers these days. Having to stand outside like criminals. I think the whole world is getting a little insane on how they treat these people.

  2. I think that the upswing in food allergies is due to the fall off in smoking. And peoples issues with fat might be due to it also.
    Of course there might have been a trade off also ;-)

  3. Both of my parents smoked until my dad had a heart attack at 39! I hated it as a kid & have memories of riding in the car in the winter, trapped by smoke, breathing into my mitten :(

  4. My husband and I smoked when we were first married, but I stopped when I had my fisrt child 39 years ago. An Mr BC a few years later. Here in Missouri it is not totally smoke free environments and restaraunts and bars have smoking sections. Stores etc are smoke free. I miss California's smoke free environment

  5. I smoke cigarettes, and even though I smoke I can still smell the cigarette smoke and it is one of the worst smells in the world.

    However I do like the smell of a good cigar, which I don't smoke.

    I have a great cologne - Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford which is heavenly.

    The smoking laws here in Western Australia - No smoking in bars, restaurants or public buildings. Also no smoking within 10 meters of an entrance to a government owned or funded building, No smoking in al fresco areas of restaurants, or within 10 meters of where food is served. No smoking in a car with any person under 18 years old, No smoking within 100 meters of a playground or school. No smoking at public events (ie fireworks, fairs, etc) Some city councils have gone further and banned smoking on sidewalks and private outdoor smoking areas in pubs/bars.

  6. Oh yes, and to further that, cigarettes, etc cannot be on display at the shops. They can only be stored behind the counter behind a solid cabinet door.

    Also, the government is/has passed a bill that all cigarette packaging must be in a solid olive green pack with the brand name / type written in plain font. No logos, company branding, etc.

    Then I read that it was suggested to the government that all people who smoke have to get a "license" to buy cigarettes, every time one buys cigarettes they have to swipe the license which records the amount of cigarettes they buy and then taxes the purchaser based on the amount they smoke.

  7. @Mark - That is so true! If you love a smoker, it's hard to see them relegated outside, by themselves. On the other hand, it's not good for the rest of us either. :(

    @Vince - Smokers always say they gain weight when they quit. I'd like to understand better your allergy theory - food allergies. My allergies (nonfood related) got better not being around smoke. But that's not the same as food. I'm intrigued!

  8. @Kat - Remember riding in the car with it?!?!? With the windows UP! Ugh! We wouldn't dream of that now.

    @BC - Some other states are definitely more relaxed about their public smoking than CA. When I lived in New England, they still had smoking/non-smoking sections (ha ha, that is such a funny concept). Since my family never got to sit in the non-smoking side I can't say for sure, but I would assume that it was just as smoky as the rest of the place. I bartended in Boston for a few years and would come home smelling like a bum - wreaking of smoke and beer. I think that's since changed, but most of the midwest isn't quite as strict about it I would assume.

  9. @Hula - How do you feel about all those restrictions? Being a smoker, are you feeling discriminated against? Not being one, I think "Sounds good to me!" But my life style is not being restricted.

  10. Uh...I could never go to bars in college because I was so allergic- I would wake up with a migraine and dry eyes and sinuses the next morning if I just wasn't worth it. And my first year of teaching I had to hold my breath and put my lunch in the refrigerator in the teachers room because the place reeked...thank goodness it isn't that way any longer.

  11. Inhaled smoke carries a gas, nitric oxide, that dilates the pipes -veins, arteries and oesophageal canal. By not smoking you display the anaphylaxis.
    I've found I'm wicked bad with some foods. Farmed salmon will set me off. But milk, or anything in that family will cause my chest to seize. You know how butter is viewed by anyone that likes to cook. Shit, it was like a family member had gone to Mars. And no matter how useful olive oil is, there are times like with a good steak when a knob of butter or better gee slightly burnt, will add a dimension unparalleled.

  12. @Marey - Yah, bars with smoke are rough. Whenever I go to Vegas or other places where smoking is much more prevelant, I get that raspy smokers voice just from being around it.

    @Vince - Really!?!?! I wasn't aware of that, and find that terribly interesting. Though, I think that's a double edged sword if I've ever seen one. Die of lung cancer or anaphylactic shock from eating salmon, or peanuts, or dairy? If it's not one thing, it's another, isn't it?

  13. Yeah, thing was people began smoking at the time (13ish) when they might have the mind to analyse what was going on with them. But then the smoking masked a real issue.
    With the salmon. It's not the fish but the food colouring in their food that dyes their flesh.
    On the milk thing, most of the world have difficulty with it. It's only those that draw genes from the Steppe horsemen that can digest it. It's one of the reasons why 'native' Celtic people have such problem with beer wine and so forth but not Whiskey. There is a lactic acid that the process of distillation removes.

  14. I don't feel discriminated against. I just think that some of the laws are an overkill when they don't spend nearly as much attention on equally damaging vices like gambling or alcohol (not that I am against those things, but fair is fair!) or even more important issues like mental health, child / spousal abuse, teen suicide, hate crimes, rape, homelessness and discrimination.

    And when we allow excessive & frivoulous laws that control everything do when we do it and how we do it, then it takes us one step closer to a Big Brother / Nanny State government, which I strongly disagree with.

    But I will digress from '1986' theorist discussions.

    A pack of cigarettes here costs an average fof $20, of which 62.5% is taxes. I don't complain about that as Australia has a government funded health care system, and if as they say, smoking causes the costs of health care to go up, then its only fair that those of us who choose to smoke pay more tax as long as it goes back into the health care system or stop smoking programs.

    Personally, I think that the government should put some of that tax money towards subsidising the cost of stop-smoking aids, such as Nicorette, which can be more expensive than cigarettes.

    So as I stated, I don't feel discriminated as one who smokes by the excessive laws, but I do feel discriminated against if I go to a restuarant and sit in a nearly empty al fresco section where there is an ashtray on every table and a person three tables upwind starts giving me dirty looks and making dramatic eye rolls and complains to the management, who then come out to ask you put out the cigarette even though it is allowed and there are ashtrays provided.

    To me that is like people who go to a topless beach and act shocked that woman are actually topless.

    But I will digress from the 'why 92% of the world's population get on my nerves' discussion.

    Growing up no one in my house smoked, but guests were allowed to smoke in the house. As a matter of fact, my mom always kept ashtrays on the coffee tables for this purpose.

    I believe that smoking is an outdoor activity to be enjoyed away from children.

    In saying that, I will admit that when I lived alone I did smoke inside and I was known in Chicago to have the doorman hail cabs until he found one that would allow me smoke inside of it. I also would only sit in smoking sections of restuarants and force my dining companions to as well, even if they didn't smoke and I amused babies by blow smoke rings in their faces(I am only kidding - I never believed in smoking around kids).

    Then I didn't smoke for 5 years and I came to hate the smell. Now that I smoke again I will only do it outdoors away from open windows.

  15. One of Evalee's friends reaks of smoke. She drew pictures for her and even the paper smelled. It makes me not want to send her over there. Isn't that terrible?
    I remember cleaning out my grandparents house when I was in 7th grade and the yellow smudge on everything. It left such a strong impression on me I never smoked.
    GLad you have clean lungs now!

  16. @Vince (M.D.) - There is a link between Celtic people and beer/wine? What is the allergy symptoms? I think I'm allergic to beer and wine. But I haven't been able to find any info on it.

    @Hula - Ha ha! Love you hula!

    @Jill - I had that lasting impression too - between a grandmother who we watched die of emphysema and a dad who smoked like a chimney and who probably would have died of emphysema if he hadn't died of a heart attack first. It sure is motivation NOT to start. Never tried it either.

  17. I grew up with that smell too. I remember being in the living room and smelling what was an ashtray, but I couldn't see it. I kept sniffing and sniffing until I found it under the sofa. I don't miss that smell.

  18. I love our smoking friend so much. But I have come to resent smoking over the last few years to the point that it just makes me ANGRY. Especially when they expect us to breathe their air and clean up their smoking mess.