Ask Kim – May 14

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Dear Kim,

I witnessed an incident at a local casino the other night and would like your opinion.  There were two couples sitting at a bank of slot machines.  They were sitting around the corner from each other.   One of the ladies was smoking and it was bothering the lady around the corner.  The non-smoking lady started waving her hands around trying to fan the smoke away from her.  She pulled her jacket up over her face and was very animated.  This is what caught my attention, so I decided to be nosey and watch the interaction.

She then proceeded to tell the smoking woman that she needed to move to the other side of the machine.  The non-smoking woman’s husband joined in the mix.  I heard him tell the smoker to “put that out” and said she was “being very rude.”  I heard the non-smoking woman tell her to “blow your smoke on him”, pointing to the person she was sitting with at her machine.  The woman smoking said “sorry”, but the non-smoker’s husband immediately said “no you’re not, you’re just rude”.  I thought she might put her cigarette out, but she didn’t.

I thought this might escalate, so like watching a train wreck, I kept watching.  The smoking woman just sorted of chuckled and blew it off.  The non-smoking couple began to whisper to each other and I figured there was more to come.  Sure enough, a few minutes went by and the smoking woman lit another cigarette.  There were a few more choice words delivered by the non-smoker’s, but it didn’t seem to bother the smoker.  What do you think?



Dear Carolyn,

That is a story that I have personally seen play out many times at our local casinos.  The rights of smokers and non-smokers probably collide in this setting many times a day.  Depending on which side of the debate you’re on, will determine how my advice is viewed.  So, I’m in a no-win situation myself.

Seriously though, let me point out a couple of things.  You were in a local casino.  Smoking is allowed.  Some casinos have non-smoking sections for people who are sensitive.  One more time.  Smoking is allowed.  That should be the end of the story.  Somehow, it’s never that simple. 

My next thought is, if you want someone to do you a favor (i.e. refrain from smoking around you), there is a right and wrong way to go about asking.  It doesn’t sound as if the non-smoking couple did a polite job of asking her to stop.  It seems they were the rude ones.  It would have probably gone much nicer, had the lady simply said to the other – “I’m so sorry to ask…your smoke is really bothering me.  Would you mind?”  Certainly not a guarantee that the smoker would oblige.  But seems much nicer to me than waving your hands around and name calling.  In my experience, a simple extension of kindness goes much further.  Especially if you’re trying to get someone to do something for you.

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