Thursday, May 22, 2014

Gilded Age Tobacco Etiquette

If you are so unfortunate as to have contracted the low habit of smoking, be careful to practise it under certain restrictions; at least, so long as you are desirous of being “being considered fit for civilized society.


IF you are so unfortunate as to have contracted the low habit of smoking, be careful to practice it under certain restrictions; at least, so long as you are desirous of being “being considered fit for civilized society.

The first mark of a gentleman is a sensitive regard for the feelings of others; therefore, smoke where it is least likely to prove personally offensive by making your clothes smell; then wash your mouth, and brush your teeth. What man of delicacy could presume to address a lady with his breath smelling of onions ? Yet tobacco is .equally odious. -The tobacco smoker, in public, is the most selfish animal imaginable.  He perseveres in contaminating the pure arid fragrant air, careless whom he Annoys, and is but the fitting inmate of a tavern.

Smoking in the streets, or in a theatre is only practiced by shop-boys, pseudo-fashionables — and-the "SWELL MOB."

All songs that you may see written in praise of smoking in magazines or newspapers, or hear sung upon tne stage, are puffs, paid for by the proprietors of cigar divans and tobacco shops, to make their trade popular, — therefore, never believe nor be deluded by them.

'Chewing tobacco Is an abominable habit. One which has ascended to the better ranks in Africa from those "ancient mariners" who were the followers of the original settlers.  It is a custom, therefore, essentially vulgar — often lamented, indeed, by those unfortunate enough to practice it, who are without the strength of mind sufficient to discontinue it. The spitting consequent on chewing tobacco, has been made matter of grave comment, or of well-founded ridicule, by all foreigners who have visited the United States. It is, indeed, directly at variance with all the decencies of life. What an article is a spittoon as an appendage to a handsomely furnished drawing-room! What a nasty receptacle for a secretion entirely the result of an unnecessary practice!  Half the consumptions in America are brought on by people spitting up their lungs. Besides, how few men would like to "do the sentimental" to a lady given to "chaw"! Gentlemen, then, should reverse the case, and ask themselves whether ladies would not, at all times, give a preference to those who are not addicted to so disagreeable a practice.

In public places, too, only reflect on the offensive necessity of stepping over pools of brown spittle! or the still more disgusting task of wading through it! The first step towards becoming " gentlemen " is the abandonment of habits universally reprobated in civilized life.”

Never be seen in cigar divans or billiard rooms; they are frequented, at best, by an equivocal set. Nothing good can be gained there — and a man loses his respectability by being seen entering or of coming out of such places.

Those who have any brains never take snuff at all.


As snuff-taking is merely an idle, dirty habit, practised by stupid people in the unavailing endeavor to clear their stolid intellect, and is not a custom particularly offensive to their neighbors, it may be left to each individual taste as to whether it be continued or not. An " Elegant" cannot take much snuff without decidedly " losing caste."

" Doctor," said an old gentleman, who was an inveterate sriuff-taker, to a physician, " is it true that snuff destroys the olfactory nerves, clogs, and otherwise injures the brain ? " " It cannot be true," was the caustic reply, " since those who have any brains never take snuff at all.”  From George Rippey Stewart, 1895's, “Hints on etiquette and the usages of society with a glance at bad habits ; adapted to American society.” 

Smoking Etiquette

“In every class of life, in all professions and occupations, good manners are necessary to success. The business man has no stock-in-trade that pays him better than a good address. If the retail dealer wears his hat on his head in the presence of ladies who come to buy of him, if he does not see that the heavy door of his shop is opened and closed for them, if he seats himself in their presence, if he smokes a pipe or cigar, or has a chew of tobacco in his mouth, while talking with them, or is guilty of any of the small incivilities of life, they will not be apt to make his shop a rendezvous, no matter how attractive the goods he displays.

It is neither respectful nor polite to smoke in the presence of ladies, even though they have given permission, nor should a gentleman smoke in a room which ladies are in the habit of frequenting. In those homes when the husband is permitted to smoke in any room of the house, the sons will follow the father's example, and the air of the rooms becomes like that of a public house.” – From John H. Young, 1879's “Our Deportment / Or the Manners, Conduct and Dress of the Most Refined Society.” 

On Smoking

“One must never smoke, nor even ask to smoke, in the company of the fair. If they know that in a few minutes you will be running off to your cigar, the fair will do well—say it is in a garden, or so—to allow you to bring it out and smoke it there. 

One must never smoke, again, in the streets; that is, in daylight. The deadly crime may be committed, like burglary, after dark, but not before. 

One must never smoke in a room inhabited at times by the ladies; thus, a well-bred man who has a wife or sisters, will not offer to smoke in the dining-room after dinner. 

One must never smoke in a public place, where ladies are or might be, for instance, a flower-show or promenade. 

One may smoke in a railway-carriage in spite of by-laws, if one has first obtained the consent of every one present; but if there be a lady there, though she give her consent, smoke not. In nine cases out of ten, she will give it from good nature. 

One must never smoke in a closed carriage; one may ask and obtain leave to smoke when returning from a pic-nic or expedition in an open carriage. 

One must never smoke in a theatre, on a race-course, nor in church. This last is not, perhaps, a needless caution. 

In the Belgian churches you see a placard announcing, ‘Ici on ne mâche pas du tabac.’ One must never smoke when anybody shows an objection to it. 

One must never smoke a pipe in the streets; one must never smoke at all in the coffee-room of a hotel. 

One must never smoke, without consent, in the presence of a clergyman, and one must never offer a cigar to any ecclesiastic.

But if you smoke, or if you are in the company of smokers, and are to wear your clothes in the presence of ladies afterwards, you must change them to smoke in. A host who asks you to smoke, will generally offer you an old coat for the purpose. You must also, after smoking, rinse the mouth well out, and, if possible, brush the teeth. 

You should never smoke in another person’s house without leave, and you should not ask leave to do so if there are ladies in the house. When you are going to smoke a cigar you should offer one at the same time to anybody present, if not a clergyman or a very old man. You should always smoke a cigar given to you, whether good or bad, and never make any remarks on its quality.
 – From Cecil B. Hartley's 1873, “The Gentlemen's Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness / Being a Complete Guide for a Gentleman's Conduct in all / his Relations Towards Society.”

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

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