I work in a relatively small office. It's got a main room which has the call center, and a bunch of little offices with their own doors, and I have one of the little offices. The front door to the office is in the call center room.

All of the call center employee's smoke, while myself, and the boss do not smoke. Now while the boss is there, they go outside to smoke, or do not smoke at all. When the boss leaves, they go outside to smoke and leave the front door to the office cracked, and their cigarette smoke literally stinks up the entire building. I believe the reason they do it is so they can smoke together and still hear the phone ring so they don't miss a call, but I haven't bothered to ask. (The boss gets an e-mail when there are missed calls automatically.) Then after they are finished they leave the door cracked to let the office "air out", which acknowledges that they know it stinks up the office. Sometimes they do it multiple times in a day, and all of them leave the door cracked while they smoke within a foot of the door.

Now I have only been here for a short period of time, but I'm planning on being here for years. Most of the call center people have been there for years. I don't want to make waves if I can avoid it, but every time it happens, even if I close my office door, I can still smell it. I want to tell them that they need to go outside to smoke and not leave the door open. It's actually a violation of Florida's state law to do it, and I believe it's a misdemeanor to even smoke right outside the door with it closed. Leaving the door open where I can smell it is definitely a violation of the law.

My problem is, I refuse to be a snitch to the boss. Plus, even if I did snitch, they would absolutely know it's me because I'm literally the only other non-smoker other than the boss. I also don't want to mention it to them, because I will probably end up being a jerk about it, because it really aggravates me to say the least. I always go out of my way to have excellent office etiquette, and they know I don't smoke yet they still do it. So I just wanted to see what you guys thought about their office etiquette, am I right to tell them they need to go outside to smoke and not crack the door? How would you handle the situation? Would snitching make me a dirty rat?

  • 3
    Tell them you are allergic to the smoke and that is why you close your door, but it doesn't fully help. People don't often argue with allergies.
    – Tyanna
    Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 20:17
  • 1
    As a smoker I would say be careful. They don't notice the smell so easily and might think you are making a fuss over nothing. On the other hand, when people tell me I stink of cigarettes I usually do something about it thinking that I must smell pretty bad if they mention it... @Tyanna: people are not allergic to cigarette smoke - its chemically impossible, that wont fly with a group of any decent size or intelligence.
    – jheriko
    Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 22:23
  • @jheriko ~ Fine, it is a irritant, not an allergen. But if you have allergies, it can make you more sensitive to the smoke, and aggravate your allergies. I know b/c I'm very sensitive to cigarette smoke, and it can trigger an allergic reaction. But, ppl don't fully understand that, so just saying I'm allergic makes ppl more aware.
    – Tyanna
    Commented Aug 22, 2014 at 13:35
  • @jheriko It's not the smell on their person, when I say they leave the door cracked when they smoke, sometimes they literally hold the office door open completely, and smoke less than a foot outside the doorway. Most of the time, it's just left cracked about an inch, but because they smoke less than a foot away, the smoke gets pushed into the building. The law is more of an ace up my sleeve if the boss didn't want to do anything about it, but my first choice would be to politely ask them to stop. Going to the boss at all in my view makes me a rat, but I would as a last resort.
    – Mastro
    Commented Aug 22, 2014 at 15:07
  • 1
    Skip the nice guy business and trying to manipulate your boss into doing what's proper. Just file a violation report. When the company starts being held liable for working conditions, people will take things more seriously. Reports should be anonymous so you don't have to worry about being perceived the rat, and after a couple of citations you should be able to breathe a little more freely. tobaccofreeflorida.com/current-issues/… Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 17:55

3 Answers 3


I would think about sending a polite email to everyone, except the boss, and be upfront.

Don't mention the law or any of that, just spell out that when they smoke in front of the entrance with the door cracked, it stinks up your office and makes it difficult to concentrate on your own work.

Ask them to please always smoke as if the boss were there, even when she isn't.

Start out with the non-threatening and polite request and see what happens.

I would not go to the boss first thing. I don't think anything that disrupts your own ability to work is something to avoid, after all, if you are unable to perform your job to your fullest ability, you are depriving your company of whatever it is you do, AND it could, in the final tally, cost your job. I still wouldn't go 'snitch' to the boss, first thing. It's your issue, and their cause. Take it up with them, first.

If you don't get anywhere, then take it to the boss, and let her quote the law. Or you can mention it in passing to your boss (hey, it's hard to concentrate on work when they leave the door open to smoke, did you know their actually supposed to smoke way over there?).

Another thing you could recommend, depending on where your office is, is an external phone buzzer on a timer, so that when the office is closed it does not ring. This would alert the smokers that the phone is ringing from a distance.


FL law definitely restricts smoking in the workplace: Practically the only place where smoking is allowed is dedicated smoking rooms, which your management has made no provision for. You are clearly exposed to second hand smoke. Have your boss display a "NO SMOKING" sign in the space outside the main office - Your company's rent includes that space anyway. Your smoker pals are in violation of the state law just referred to, and the law requires your boss to enforce the "no smoking" provision. Have your boss comply with the law. Compliance with the law is bigger than you, your boss or your smoker colleagues.

Being aggressive, I would ask the boss to notify everyone that I am in charge of enforcing the "no smoking" rule while the boss is not in the office - The thought that I am hardly winning any popularity contests does not trouble me.

If I were the only non-smoker in a place, I can choose to see myself as either at the wrong end of a consensus or a majority of one. Since the law is on my side, I am a majority of one.


Probably you can ask the boss to display a message in the office about the Florida state law you mentioned, preferably on the door itself. It won't be obvious if it is a result of you snitching or boss did it on his own.

Then you can start asking from people who are closer to you in the workplace (who won't straight away consider you a jerk!) not to continue the same practice. If one or two people start following the law, it may bring a change in behaviors.

Other than that, I cannot think of a polite way. Anyway, it is the law, and company can enforce and should enforce it whether or not someone likes it.

If your boss won't do it then move straight to step 2, start convincing your friends first on keeping the doors shut.

  • as a smoker i would consider this a 'dick move'. the law is a very heavy handed approach to start out with, and many people (not just smokers) consider such laws to be misguided... the boss may not agree either, even if they dislike the smoke.
    – jheriko
    Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 22:16
  • Let's leave it to the boss! Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 22:35
  • My boss is WAY too laid back for this to fly. If he put up a sign like this, they would absolutely know that someone went to him, and I'd be the only suspect. If the boss had a problem with it, he'd just tell them to stop rather than putting up a sign. Plus, it's one thing to politely come between someone and their nicotine, it's quite another to try to use the boss to forcefully do so.
    – Mastro
    Commented Aug 22, 2014 at 15:12

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