How To: Handle Smokers

The times are changing, and smoking indoors is nowhere near as accepted or legally available indoors as it once was. On the other hand, more than nicotine cigarettes are becoming available, and cigar bars have found their own niche. Starbucks has drawn a line at their cafes, prohibiting anyone from smoking within 25 feet of their establishments (mainly, you won’t be able to sit outside and have a cigarette as you enjoy your half-caf mocha chai tea latte). The rule is exempt from some 4,000 unique Starbucks, such as ones located in Target or Barnes & Noble, and ones where Starbucks-owned property extends 15 feet, anyone beyond 15 feet may smoke.

With these changing worlds and rules regarding smoking, just how should you continue to contain the smoke?


  • … look into your local rules and regulations regarding smoking. Wikipedia is a great starting point to gain a general overview of how this varies from state to state, and where movements seem to be going.
  • … be respectful when it comes to asking people not to smoke. Point out legal regulations and the concerns and safety of others. Instead of throwing them out on the street, allow them to end their cigarette and go about their meal.

Be Careful…

  • … when considering the concept of a “smokeasy”. Like “speakeasies” of the past, a smokeasy is a business or restaurant that operates and allows smoking, despite local or federal regulations to the contrary. They may consider the fines and fees associated part of their business, and outweighed by the business they’ll receive from it.
  • … and note that electronic cigarettes (commonly referred to as “e-cigarettes” or “personal vaporizer”) are not the exact same as traditional cigarettes. These devices do not produce smoke, preventing nearby parties from secondhand smoke, nor pose the fire hazard of traditional cigarettes. Keep abreast of these devices, as they are being heavily focused on.
  • … when deciding where people can smoke in your business. If you’re allowed smoking indoors, it may be best to keep smoking to certain area.


  • … treat cannabis, or marijuana, cigarettes the same as traditional nicotine ones. These cigarettes fall under vastly different rule and regulations, and while there are adjustments in recent years in the law towards legalization, it is nowhere near widespread legally accepted.
  • … allow your staff to be seen smoking. If it’s legally allowed, limit smoking coworkers and keep them out of sight. Many customers will find the visual of the person handling or cooking their food smoking to be unhealthy and unclean.