Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

by admin on September 24, 2013

I was out a couple weeks ago shopping with my friend and her 3 month old daughter. There was a man smoking outside the entrance to the store.  Now before you go bashing me, I have absolutely no issue with anyone’s life choices. He has all rights to smoke if he wants to. It’s what comes next that I’m upset about.

As this is the only entrance, my friend and I try to mind our own business and discreetly get the baby past the smoke as fast as possible. Apparently this is where we were wrong in his eyes.  He sees what we are doing, and proceeds to exhale his smoke in our direction and wave it DIRECTLY INTO THE STROLLER!   We didn’t know how to respond. We just gave him a nasty look as we rushed the baby out of the way.

I’m interested to see how others would have handled this situation. Is there really any other way to handle people like this?   0923-13

Perhaps you were not as discreet as you thought you were in expressing a disdain for the man’s smoking habit.  But no matter, there are cretins in this world that would behave in this obnoxious manner with little to no provocation whatsoever.     This guy reminds me of the junior high school bully who tormented kids for no apparent reason other than delighting in other people’s discomfort.

So, what do you do when faced with a strange man in a public place who makes a passive aggressive action towards a baby?   You avoid him  because to do anything else at that moment is to place the baby right in the middle of an adult conflict with no assurance that you can win the war.   If he’s creepy enough, you call the police to report a suspicious vagrant loitering outside a store and behaving in a way that is not socially acceptable.   You report the incident to the store manager in the chance that he is a store employee or a regular customer that the manager can speak to.

Years ago I encountered a teenaged employee of a grocery store having a major anger fit in the parking lot.   The problem was, he was directing his rage at his supervisor at customers in the parking lot and I was the closest person to him when he went off.    I simply turned on my heels and walked right back into the store, asked to speak to the manager who proceeded to tell me this kid was one of the “emotionally challenged” young adults they hire.   I knew the company tried to hire disabled or mentally challenged individuals, some of whom were a great asset to the store (“Hi Willie!”).   But this individual was different in a way that was not a positive contribution and his behavior was alarming.   I pointed out to the manager that it was not his customers’ responsibility to have to deal with assuaging the explosive anger of one of his employees on their way to their vehicles and that this presented an unknown danger I wasn’t willing to keep encountering.   How do I know the kid won’t pull out a gun or take a knife from the butcher’s area or use a box cutter to put actions to his emotionally charged words?   This employee was not to be seen after that so I assume he was fired.


{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Dominic September 24, 2013 at 6:50 am

Admin’s comments are spot on. You just want to get out of there and not put your child or yourself in any danger. Reporting it to the store could also be helpful. Some locales have ordinances about how far away from entrances you must be when smoking, so perhaps the store could do something about it. As the OP points out, in asking not to be flamed, smoking is a contentious issue.

A few weeks ago, one of the large cruise ship lines announced that in 2014, smoking would be even more limited on their ships, in particular that smoking would no longer be allowed on balconies. This gave rise to endless discussion threads, which often became very ugly. For years, nonsmokers had complained on those boards about not being able to use their balconies because of smokers nearby on their balconies. The standard response was, “I’m allowed to smoke on my balcony. If you don’t like it, go to a cruise line where there’s no smoking on balconies.” Now that this cruise line no longer allows it, many of the smokers are the ones complaining. The response is now reversed: if you don’t like it, switch to a cruise line that allows it. As you might guess, that advice has not been taken graciously.

If people can be so rude to each other, downright combative, about such an issue, online, it’s definitely not worth getting into it in person, in public, with a stranger.


Lo September 24, 2013 at 7:05 am

If this guy was actually trying to expose the baby to the smoke then I’m not surprised at all at your reaction, but as there’s two of you and one of him I probably would have been emboldened enough to exclaim, “What the hell is your problem!??” I mean that’s seriously shocking behaviour! What if the baby had some kind of respiratory distress from it? I’m all for smokers rights, I enjoy a cigarette once in awhile, but this is a different issue. This is ill-intent towards a child we’re talking about.

And, yeah, get the heck out of there. Never engage someone who behaves in a threatening manner unless you have an easy out. Had it happened to me and I had been alone I would have rushed away as quickly as possible. Get your dependents under your protective skirts and get them to safety is what I say, whether it’s kids, animals, more vulnerable friends, etc.


Abby September 24, 2013 at 7:13 am

I definitely agree that there’s not much you can do other than get away from this guy as quickly as possible and say nothing to him. I’d avoid eye contact as well. It does not matter to me how obvious your disdain for smoking was to this guy- blowing and waving smoke into a baby’s face is some seriously creepy behavior and it’s best to put as much distance between yourself and him as possible.


ferretrick September 24, 2013 at 7:26 am

Definitely get into the store as quickly as possible, then immediately report the issue to store management and politely but firmly demand they deal with it. If it’s their employee, he should be disciplined. If it’s just a loiterer, he gets told to go elsewhere and the police should be called if he refuses.


Mae September 24, 2013 at 7:41 am

OP, I think you did the right thing at the moment and just got away from the smoking guy. If you encounter such behavior in the future, take Admin & Dominic’s advice and speak to the manager.

I know for sure our local hospital has a sign posted that you must b xx feet from the hospital to smoke, in fact, they have a small gazebo set up for smokers to use.

Admin- how awful and scary! I’m glad the manager took your words to heart and apparently dismissed the employee.


clairedelune September 24, 2013 at 7:46 am

YIKES! Exhaling cigarette smoke all over an infant isn’t passive-aggressive, it’s just plain aggressive.


Miss-E September 24, 2013 at 7:52 am

Are you certain that he was waving the smoke into the carriage? He may have been attempting to wave it away and just doing a poor job…


Ergala September 24, 2013 at 8:25 am

This is why I’m very glad that in my state smoking cannot be within a certain distance of any public door. A few years ago the apartment complex we lived in banned smoking. I was all for it, I was sick and tired of having to pick cigarette butts up off the playground there before my small children could play. When I brought that up during a meeting to discuss this with the property managers one of the elderly women told me that as a mother it was my job to pick that stuff up to keep my kids safe. Um no it’s not! It’s YOUR job as a smoker to properly dispose of your cigarette butts, not flick them onto the playground. It became extremely heated during that meeting and the managers offered to supply people with smoking cessation supplies for as long as it took (they even offered e-cigs!) for them to quit. We couldn’t open our back sliding door or dining room windows because the smoke would waft in. I never complained because it was their right to smoke, but I was irked that I had to tolerate it coming into my home.

I’ve discovered that if you purposefully give someone smoking a wide berth one of three thing happen : 1) They completely ignore it and you which is fine. 2) They apologize and try to make sure they don’t blow smoke in your direction, or 3) they do what the man in the OP did…..they become offended that you don’t want to walk through their clouds and either blow it your way or say something uncouth. I’ve had people blow smoke in my face when I tried to avoid them, I had pneumonia and I didn’t want to have a coughing fit. Unless the OP approached the guy and told him to put out the cigarette so the baby could go by I don’t see how she did anything wrong. Or passive aggressive. The guy was a tool.


Jessica September 24, 2013 at 8:40 am

Submissions like this make me appreciate my friends in college who smoked and made an effort to blow the smoke away from me or position themselves so the wind wasn’t blowing it in my face. I don’t smoke, and cigarette smoke makes my throat angry after a while, so it was nice that we could still maintain a conversation while they took a cigarette break. The guy from the OP sounds like a jerk. Why would you even do that??


just4kicks September 24, 2013 at 8:58 am

I, myself am a smoker. Yes, I know it’s a disgusting habit, I’m trying hard to quit. A few years ago, we were on vacation and sitting outside at a table while the kids played in the pool. A young couple with a baby in a carrier set up camp a few chairs down from our table. After a few minutes and several dirty looks in our direction, the mother stood up, grabbed the carrier and stormed passed us yelling about “our disgusting habit” harming her baby. My husband said, “Ma’am…one: we were here first. Second: we are OUTSIDE. Third: maybe you should be more concerned about banging your child’s carrier off the back of the chair, like you JUST DID in your efforts to get away from our “disgusting habit”. Her husband gently took the baby off her hands and directed her to the other side of the pool.
Now, before everyone starts throwing stones, had she asked me to put my cigarette out, I would have done so immediately.


Kirst September 24, 2013 at 9:08 am

Tried to discreetly get the baby past the smoke as fast as possible? It can’t have taken any more than three seconds for two adults to get a pram through a shop door. It sounds like the two of them made a point of making a fuss to show unhappy they were that someone was daring to smoke in public.


DGS September 24, 2013 at 9:09 am

@OP, you did absolutely the right thing by removing the child and yourself and your friend out of harm’s way. What that person did by blowing smoke in the baby’s direction was not passive-aggressive; it was just plain aggressive. There is ample documented research evidence of the harm of first-hand, as well as second and third-hand nicotine exposure (third-hand exposure is defined as being exposed to furniture or clothing that had had contact with a smoker). I agree with Admin about speaking with the police or the store manager.

@Just4Kicks, your husband was absolutely right about you being there first, although even though you are outside, there is potential for second-hand and third-hand smoking exposure to the baby. However, in that instance, it was the mother’s job to minimize her baby’s exposure by moving to the other side of the pool without exposing you to her opinions about your smoking habits (which are not any of her business, regardless of her approval or disapproval).

I’m a Mom who zealously protects my kidlet from nicotine exposure within reason. Smoking is not allowed in our house, and when my parents who smoke come visit us and the baby, they are gracious enough to abide by my policy and smoke outside and wash their hands before picking up my toddler (I’d love for them to change clothes, but I do not want to impose that on them as well – they smoke too frequently for outfit changes). I also know from watching my parents attempt to quit as I grew up, how addicting cigarettes are, and how hard it is to quit. When they are ready to quit, I will fully support them in that effort, but until that time, we respect each other’s space. I also respect their desire to smoke in their home, which means that we stay in a hotel when we go visit them rather than sleeping at their house, but we do come over to visit or meet in neutral, smoke-free spaces.


Jazzgirl205 September 24, 2013 at 9:12 am

Okay. I’m not a run in fear type of person because it gives the jerks too much power. Get the mother and baby inside then grab his cigarette, throw it on the ground, and rub it out. Tell the man that since he’s immature enough to bully a 3 month old, he’s too immature to smoke.

People consider me a gracious lady. Being a lady involves being courageous and defending the weak and less fortunate. It is never lady-like to run scared and tattle. That is what little girls do. When reviewing the 7 Godly virtues, I saw Courage and Justice but I didn’t see running and cowering.


Rachel September 24, 2013 at 9:28 am

Agreed with admin that the guy should have been put in his place but nothing could really be done without putting the baby in danger. Sad situation.


camlan September 24, 2013 at 9:41 am

I’m with Kirst on this one. However “discreet” the OP and her friend tried to be, it must have been very obvious to the smoker what they were trying to do. He apparently saw this as an attack on his smoking, and reacted.

In the future, the OP and her friend should consider how their actions will affect others. There was no need to try and be “discreet” in entering the store. They could have simply entered the store, perhaps walking a little faster than usual. There should have been nothing to be “discreet” about.

No, the man shouldn’t have tried to waft smoke over in their direction. But they started things by making it obvious that they were trying to avoid him. If you act in an insulting way to someone, it should not be a surprise when they sense the insult.


Allie September 24, 2013 at 9:42 am

Where I live, there is legislation prohibiting smoking within 10 feet of doorways, although people still do it all the time. I always give smokers a wide berth with my baby carriage. There’s not much else you can do about it. In my day, we would have labelled this guy a “crank,” although everyone fancies themselves an armchair psychologist these days and we seem to fall all over ourselves trying to diagnose people who, for whatever reason, enjoy making others uncomfortable. Keep away and if you have a similar law in your area (a lot of places do) alert store security and they’ll go try to shoo him off.


just4kicks September 24, 2013 at 10:04 am

@DGS: Even though my husband and I smoke, we do it outside our home, and never in our cars. The hotel we were at is directly across the street from the beach, and depending on which way the ocean breeze was blowing, it’s entirely possible it was blowing in the baby’s direction. However, it was minutes after the pool opened, and there were probably 50 plus available chairs with the same amount of Sun exposure they could have occupied. Now, I know cigarette smoke bothers alot of people, and I’m not trying to come across as some sort of saint, but, had she smiled and asked me to put my cigarette out, I would have been happy to or gone for a walk away from the baby. And she DID, in her haste and annoyance, hit the carrier rather hard against her beach chair, which prompted the comment from my husband.


connietalbotfan September 24, 2013 at 10:11 am

OP here to clear a couple things up,

1.To whoever said we were jackasses and it only takes 2 seconds to get in the store has obviously never tried to enter a crowded store with a bulky stroller and other baby stuff. Plus, as a first time mother, my friend may be a bit overprotective, but she is most certianly not an ass. We just wanted to get in the store. She saw him from across the parking lot and told me to push the stroller in quickly while she grabbed the other stuff.

2. I’m a smoker myself. I’m all for the rights of smokers. But I’m also all for the right of children to be safe from our smoke.

3. Yes I’m sure he was blowing smoke at the baby. He exhaled in our direction and waved it downwards directly towards her.

So overall may some people still think we were slightly in the wrong? Sure. But the baby’s safety comes first.


Abby September 24, 2013 at 10:25 am

“It is never lady-like to run scared and tattle. That is what little girls do. When reviewing the 7 Godly virtues, I saw Courage and Justice but I didn’t see running and cowering.”

The world is full of crazy people. While I agree the percentage of the population crazy enough to pull out a gun or knife is much smaller than the percentage of the population who would back down when confronted, you can’t always tell which is which. Also, I absolutely do not recommend ripping a cigarette out of a stranger’s mouth and stomping it out. I do not think that makes you a “gracious lady”.


starstruck September 24, 2013 at 10:28 am

where i live, there is a law that says you cannot smoke within so many feet from the door of any building. and its strickly inforced. the people of my state simply wont put up with it. because even though what you said is true, about smoking being their choice, its also mine to not have to breathe second hand smoke. if someone blew smoke on me or my childs face, i would be hard pressed not to say something.i have seen people in lines at hotdog stands get confronted by bystanders for smoking in line. if you want to smoke , then do so discretetly , where no one else has to smell it. cause believe me , no one else wants to.


Another Sarah September 24, 2013 at 11:31 am

I myself have never smoked, but the habit genuinely doesn’t bother me. In fact I quite like the smell of cigarette smoke (weird I know).
There are a LOT of non-smokers who make a huge deal about smokers being near them, including reacting in extreme ways in places and at times where the risk to them is minimal ot practically non-existent – to the point where I can very much understand that smokers get to a point where they feel hounded. I suspect OP, based on the fact that you made a point of “trying to get the baby past as fast as possible”, that you may have inadvertently behaved in a way that made this man think that you were judging him, and I must admit I find it hard to believe the baby was in much danger from passing within a few yards of a smoker for a few seconds.

However that in no way excuses his behaviour. Whatever the reason someone is offended, there is only one way to deal with it – gracefully.
This man was a rude, obnoxious boor to react the way he did, and while I agree with admin that you have to make sure the baby was safe, I think more often than not you can gauge the level of aggression of a person when you’re faced with them. I wouldn’t ask the store manager to intercede unless I believed the man was likely to be violent because the man would’ve walked away thinking “pfft anti-smokers” rather than understanding why you were angry with him. I would have probably let mother and baby get inside and then have said something along the lines of “Why did you do that? We’re not bothering you,” to make the point he was attempting to retaliate against an imaginary offence.


Li September 24, 2013 at 11:53 am

@Kirst- And this excuses attempting to blow/wave smoke into a baby stroller because…?

Count my among those who think that smoking has been *over* demonized, but really some thing are beyond the pale.


Gamer Girl September 24, 2013 at 12:05 pm

I’m actually allergic to second hand smoke. Exposed long enough to it (think a couple months indoors during the winter months) and I start to break out in a weird rash and my hair can start to fall out. It’s pretty freaking gross.

My in-laws are avid smokers (and our living with them during those winter months is what brought my allergic reactions to the surface) and through the near 20 years I’ve been with their son, we’ve had ever evolving attempts at reconciling their right to smoke and my allergies.

They don’t smoke in my home, or even close to the doors or windows. When we moved across country and my mother in law helped drive, she didn’t smoke in my car and aired herself out for 15 minutes after each smoke break before getting back into said car.

When I’m at their house, I don’t complain if cigarette smoke gets into the house. It’s not my home. I just avoid it as much as possible, they smoke outside when I’m there, and I shower when I get home.

They are currently switching to e-cigarettes, which I wholeheartedly support. When they come to visit, I don’t mind if they use them indoors, so long as there is no smell.

It’s all about respecting boundaries and everyone’s rights.


Wendy B. September 24, 2013 at 12:18 pm

My question is: what actions did you take to get the baby through the door as fast as possible? Did you run? Did you say (loudly) “lets get baby in as fast as possible and away from the smoke?” It seems odd to me that he would do something retaliatory to people just walking into a store, so I can only assume he felt provoked. Not that his response was appropriate by any means.


DGS September 24, 2013 at 12:48 pm

@Jazzgirl205, I respectfully disagree with your suggestion, although I agree with the notion of protecting the weak and defending the less fortunate. Grabbing a cigarette, throwing it on the ground, and rubbing it out, could result in being assaulted by this jerk, shot and killed, or at the very least, having him call the police and cry assault (jerks are usually coward). I didn’t see the OP or Admin advocating running and cowering; I saw them advocating a reasonable intervention that protects the defenseless without putting themselves at risk for harm or putting the baby at risk for harm. Certainly, it is hard to predict the irrational behavior of humans in many instances, but it might be extremely foolhardy to provoke a provocateur and invite further danger; it might be smarter to simply walk away from his obnoxious behavior and take the defenseless with you.


KA September 24, 2013 at 1:12 pm

This blog post reminded me of this one time… on a band trip to Disneyland…

We were in line for Splash Mountain (about ten high school kids). If you’ve ever been, you know that the outside line eventually snakes inside to the wooden building part, looking out over Pooh’s Corner. There’s a window there directly above a bench. We saw an older woman sitting on the bench with a stroller in front of her. She was blowing her cigarette smoke directly into the face of the baby.

Being only mildly obnoxious teenagers, we gawked for a second before my friend stuck his head out of the window opening and said, “Gee Grandma, I really love it when you blow that smoke in my face!”

Probably not the best approach, but she gave us a dirty look and then stopped. It was just a year or so later that Disney started the “designated smoking areas” for which I am thankful. I know people can mess up their lungs if they like, but I shouldn’t have to be exposed to your secondhand smoke and neither should a helpless child!


lakey September 24, 2013 at 1:28 pm

There’s a saying: “Don’t engage the crazy.” Also, I too believe that smokers have the right to engage in their legal behavior, but as you said, that’s no excuse for this guys being deliberately rude. A person this juvenile is trying to get a rise out of you, it’s better to act like you don’t notice because he wants to see a negative reaction.

As far as the administrator’s grocery store episode, an emotionally challenged person should have been working in the back storeroom or in an office away from customers. The whole issue with emotionally impaired people is that their behavior is out of control. There are professionals trained to deal with this; I’m pretty sure the store manager isn’t one of them.


lakey September 24, 2013 at 1:31 pm

To be clear, when I said, “Don’t engage the crazy,” I was referring to the jerk in front of the store waving his smoke at people, not the emotionally impaired person. The emotionally impaired person should not be mocked, but should, and probably is, receiving professional help. I would not trivialize mental health issues by using a term like “crazy”.


Alexis September 24, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Smoker here. I try to be very courteous about my habit. In fact, if I am walking down a street and smoking I will most often try to cross to the other side of the street if a child is nearby. If I am in a group of people outside I always ask if it is all right if I smoke around thrm. I would never ever smoke in another person’s home or car unless they expressly gave me permission–and I would never ask for their permission, it has to be granted to me unbidden. I try to make smoking MY personal choice, not involve others in it.

That being said, the disgust and disdain with which I am treated is insane to me. Complete strangers feel it is entirely their right to give me dirty looks, make comments to me or walk up to me to lecture me on the health risks of smoking completely unbidden. They feel that it is their right to publicly shame me. I will admit to at times being tempted to act passive-aggressively towards these people when they are especially mean, but I have never acted upon it. There comes an occasion at least every few months when men choose to catcall me by telling “You’re too cute to smoke!” At me.

If this story is true, this gentleman is a jerk and he gives those of us who try to be courteous a bad name. I’m sorry you had to deal with this. But something in the tone of your story, OP, sets off alarm bells to me. I think Admin gives great advice, all in all.


momofeveryone September 24, 2013 at 2:31 pm

my sisters, college friends, and co workers were/are smokers. the first time we would hang out i would just ask them to blow the smoke up. if i hung around it, sometimes it triggered a migrain. from that initial convo, we would hang out and all i had to say was ‘up, please’. and they would accomodate me. they knew it was a resonable request. they never smoke in my house and dispose of the butts in a flower pot i provide on my deck. none of them smoke in the car w/o checking first either (mostly now bc im really really pregnant 🙂 ). its fine if you want to smoke but i KNOW you can still be polite. even if the op wasnt as discreat as she thought that was not neccissary.


Marozia September 24, 2013 at 3:33 pm

What you did was too obvious, OP. You should’ve just walked inside with your friend and baby and just ignored the smoker. He saw you judging him and his habit, probably as many others did and just became a jerk and blew the smoke at you.


FeatherBlade September 24, 2013 at 4:06 pm

@Maroiza: To be perfectly fair, if blowing smoke at a member of the OP’s party is the smoker’s first reaction to being avoided, then he was probably a jerk well before the OP encountered him.


hakayama September 24, 2013 at 4:08 pm

@Kirst: Two seconds to get through the door? C’mon, let’s give it ten, please ;-). However, I think you’re spot on about the faces and body language of the two friends reacting to the smoker. They might not have come close to the behavior of the unhinged wench described by just4kicks, but “nasty looks” are enough.
@just4kicks: I wonder if the woman you described even notices people having alcoholic beverages…

@Jazzgirl205: It appears that not only PETA, however well-intentioned it may be in its mission, engages in antagonistic and potentially dangerous activities. The actual potentially violent physical interaction you suggest is not the way to accomplish a noble objective. Quite likely, in my younger “smoking” years, I would probably have rubbed your face in the rubbed out cigarette. Or at least butted you in the face as a self-defense measure.

@just4kicks: As a “smoker that chooses not to smoke” (thank you AA for the term ;-), I need to bring about the different images for “disgusting”, “dirty” or otherwise questionable habits and/or activities. At least SOME of them can be made to look more or less icky (not a scientific term). I’d like to present just the extremes, you fill in the “in-between” possibilities.
Let’s start out with the “sex workers”: Mme. DuBarry vs. the proverbial two-bit whore.
Alcohol consumption: nicely dressed people, sipping drinks from elegant glasses, cut crystal decanters, candles; passed out (pissed too) individuals on the sidewalk.
Gambling: much celebrated Monte Carlo vs. the dark back room of a filthy nasty dive.

I also need to make it clear that I grew up surrounded by advertising where doctors stated their smoke preferences from the pages of general interest magazines; movies showed “beautiful people” smoking in elegant surroundings; my own parents smoking away, having dinner parties (with drinks, mainly wine) followed by late into the night bridge games…


hakayama September 24, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Ooops! I forgot the cigarettes in long holders used by the movie stars vs. the chewed up, wet cigar stubs in the drooping mouths of red-nosed ugly men…


LawGeek September 24, 2013 at 6:15 pm

Your rights end where mine begin. And my right to sit in a park, walk down the sidewalk, or sit on a patio are often taken away by smokers. As others have mentioned, being outside is not some magical talisman that renders smoke inert. It can still create problems for children & those of us with lung/breathing disorders or allergies. Even for healthy people, a cloud of secondhand smoke blowing their way can be unpleasant.

If you’re going to choose to go out in public and emit something that smells bad and risks the health of those around you, you have to develop a thicker skin. Of COURSE people are going to avoid you, change chairs, even make the same face they would make when one smells something unpleasant. It’s a normal reaction. I would expect the same if I wore a ton of perfume, refused to shower, or blasted music while walking.

My right to avoid an asthma attack is not trumped by your right not to have your feelings hurt. Yes, sometimes it will be obvious I am crossing the street to avoid you. You can mumble to yourself about “smokers rights” or judgmental people all you want; it is still a very proportional and natural reaction to your chosen behavior.


Echo September 24, 2013 at 6:45 pm

Long time smoker here, so definitely no anti-smokers bias. I don’t care if the OP and her friend walked past the man while glaring and openly telling him how filthy his habit is – there is never, ever any excuse for blowing smoke in a baby’s face.


Yasuragi September 24, 2013 at 7:00 pm

@OP. No one called you jackasses.


just4kicks September 24, 2013 at 11:39 pm

@hakayama: I’m not sure I get your point….


Kate September 24, 2013 at 11:48 pm

OP, it’s entirely possible that the man took offense at what you were doing. However, it wouldn’t matter if you stood there for 10 minutes telling him off for being a smoker – it doesn’t justify blowing smoke at a baby. The risks of second hand smoke are real and well documented.

I personally prefer not to stand near smokers, the smell makes me feel a bit sick, but I’d consider myself a ‘non-smoker’ not an ‘anti-smoker’ as some people are. As in, I don’t care what you do to your own body and I can live with a whiff of smoke as I walk by you, but don’t sit there smoking in an area where smoking is prohibited (enclosed areas, etc) or you’re going to cop a dirty look.


connietalbotfan September 25, 2013 at 5:39 am

Again, no we weren’t loud. We saw him from the car and she told me as we were getting out, from across the parking lot, to get the baby quickly inside and past him while she got the other things (diaper bag etc)

And was that a bit of an overreaction on her part? Possibly, I can see your points of view on that. But as a new first time parent, she worries about everything. Its not like we made a huge fuss and pointed at the guy and screamed OMG SMOKER EVERYONE PANIC!
We just quickly tried to hustle through the crowd so the baby wasn’t breathing in obnoxious smoke.

Again, i’m a smoker myself. I get the habit. I do not understand the need to expose random unwilling people (especially kids) to my smoke. I try to be a polite smoker.


Miss-E September 25, 2013 at 6:29 am


I highly doubt that people who choose not to shower have as many stories of being openly harassed by strangers. Every smoker I know (and most on this thread) has a story about being bugged by a stranger over their smoking. Stinky people don’t usually get that kind of treatment. Neither do people who wear too much perfume.

It reminds me of a debate I’ve seen on this site before: people telling off overweight people for buying ice cream or cookies. Somehow, telling off a smoker gets mixed in with this idea that you are “helping”

That’s not to say that there aren’t jackasses out there, smoking where they shouldn’t, leaving cigarettes butts everywhere. But if someone is sitting on a park bench, all alone, not near a playground, smoking, they really shouldn’t be bothered by a stranger.


Kirst September 25, 2013 at 9:26 am

Everyone’s upset the baby might be exposed to smoke, outdoors, for mere seconds. Nobody’s remarked on the fact they’ve just exposed the baby to far more equally harmful substances by walking through a car park. Of course smoking in the same house, or same room, as a child is harmful, and of course passive smoking is dangerous – but walking past a smoker outdoors for a couple for just seconds isn’t going to do any more damage than walking through the car park to get to the shop in the first place. The smoker was rude, but the OP and her friend are being ridiculous.


Cat September 25, 2013 at 9:54 am

Two things come to mind: the first is that one should put oneself between the child and a stranger. I am a large woman and getting around me to get to the child would take someone with the skills of a running back. The second is to discourage any more of his behavior. I would be tempted to let out a loud scream and to shout, “Get away from the baby!”
It’s a shopping mall with security and a lot of people. Most people will intervene if a child is being threatened. Quickly take the child and leave. Leave him explain to on-lookers what happened. Whatever he says is going to sound like an excuse.


kingsrings September 25, 2013 at 10:44 am

I am also tired of my time outside being ruined by smokers. Not being able to sit in the sunshine, sit outisde on a nice day, sit in a park, because some smoker comes by and ruins it all. Either sat or one has to smell the disgusting smoke on the smoker’s clothes after they’re done with a cigarette. There is absolutelty no polite way to smoke. It is one very rude habit along with being very dangerous.


MichelleP September 25, 2013 at 11:03 am

Amen, @LawGeek. As an anti-smoker, yes I’m going to get my child past someone smoking as quick as I can and yes I’m going to give them a dirty look. No, I’m not going to tell anyone off, I don’t engage the crazy.

If you want to poison yourself that’s fine. Not my child or myself.
@Marozia, I hope you’re not justifying what that creep did.


MichelleP September 25, 2013 at 11:06 am

@Just4Kicks, why should they move because of your disgusting habit? And how is her banging her child carrier any of your husband’s business? (I’m not approving of how the woman handled it, but I’m a mom who is sick of my child being exposed to others’ smoke.)


MsDani313 September 25, 2013 at 11:50 am

I agree with LawGeek!

Your right to smoke should not infringe upon my right to breathe. A smoker’s sense of smell is ruined by cigarettes so they cannot fully smell the smoke or themselves. As a non-smoker who has asthma, allergies and other respiratory issues, I cannot stand being around smokers …whether they are currently smoking or not. The smell from cigarettes gets in your clothes, hair, car and home.

I went to a staff meeting last week and a new coworker sat next to me. She reeked of cigarettes and it made me nauseous. When we took a break I moved to the other side of the room. After the meeting she asked why I moved and I told her that she smelled strongly of cigarettes and the smell was giving me a headache. She looked offended and walked away.

Smokers!…You may not be able to sense how horrible you smell but to someone like me it can be disabling. I do not visit friends who smoke (their house reeks), ride in cars with people who smoke unless I am the driver and I do hesitate to move if someone is smoking around me. If you take offense, that is your problem. I do not lecture anyone on their health but you will hear an ear full about my health when you infringe upon my space.


Enna September 25, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Admin is spot on here.


KA September 25, 2013 at 12:22 pm

@kingsrings – I feel like you hit it spot on. Even if someone never, ever lights up except in the privacy of their own home, they still smell terribly when they exit the home and enter the public. Hair, clothes, personal belongings – they all retain the awful smell.

I can always tell which of my students have parents that are smokers because a) the kids usually smell faintly of smoke and b) their belongings (like science journals, which they turn in every two weeks), always reek.


amyasleigh September 25, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Taking it that the guy did indeed deliberately wave his smoke into the baby’s stroller — that’s inexcusable, “no matter what”. And I consider the actions of the OP (who tells us that she, herself, smokes) and her companion, completely right and proper.

I have never smoked, and agree that smoking is altogether a bad idea, and a practice with some negative impact on the person who does it, and on”everyone within range”. However — I have got into trouble a few times, for “Godwining threads” — the venom and vitriol spouted against those who smoke, by some extreme anti-smokers, puts me in mind irresistibly of — well, you know…


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