I'll start by saying this: Smoking is a bad thing, and you should never start doing it. It kills you, and is in no situation good or healthy. Having said that, I would request to refrain from answering 'Just quit smoking.', I would quit if I could. Believe me, I have tried to quit several times.

I'm going into my last year of my study, for which we are required to follow an internship. I have my first 'interview' with this company, so they can get to know me and I get to know the company.

I'm afraid of leaving a bad impression because I smoke. Society keeps getting more 'anti-smoking' (Which is a good thing!), and I'm afraid the company will prefer someone else, who doesn't smoke. The company I had my last internship with, didn't mind me smoking, and almost embraced it. I had fun with my colleagues in my smoke breaks, and I didn't feel 'different' because I smoked.

Is it possible that a company will think differently of me because I smoke, or is it possible that they would prefer someone else who doesn't smoke? I understand that this differs per company, but is there a general distaste for people who smoke during work?

For my interview, should I refrain from smoking, so they won't account me smoking into their decision for hiring me as an intern? I don't want to leave a false impression.

Edit: I live in the Netherlands. I feel like smoking isn't regarded very negative, but society keeps getting more 'anti-smoking' due to advertisements on tv and such.

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    About 25% of people smoke in the Netherlands, so it's not as uncommon as you make it out to be (of course, it's heavily dependent on socio-economic status; I've been at gatherings of 30+ people where no one smokes). Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 8:56
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    I did a couple of interviews in the Netherlands (Tech Indusrty) and smoking did never came up. I worked a couple of months for Wehkamp and they had scheduled smoking breaks. It seems companies 'know' a percentage of their employees smoke and do not care that much about it. This was like 5 years ago, but I feel like the Netherlands are fairly tolerant.
    – S.Visser
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 10:37
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    Do not smoke or ask for a smoke break during your interview. The rest I would say just live your life and not worry about it.
    – Neo
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 12:04
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    When you say "during", do you mean you're considering smoking in the meeting room? Or do you mean smoke breaks in an all-day interview? If the former, is smoking in the workplace normal in the Netherlands? (Where I live, most workplaces outside the food industry are smoke-free, though people can step outside to smoke.) Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 19:48
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    It's the same situation here in the UK where smoking is becoming less socially acceptable as time goes on. Out of 15 people in my team, three are smokers and it's never an issue. I personally don't think that smoking is the issue here, it's the effect on others - not coming back into the office smelling of burnt tobacco is the desired outcome. One easy thing is when you come back from a smoke break, don't immediately have a face-to-face with someone because you're still going to be exhaling old smoke. Wear fresh clothes every day, breath mints, that kind of thing helps.
    – user44108
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 10:55

2 Answers 2


Basic Answer; yes it could count against you.

Longer answer; Personally I don't like smokers in my business, and won't hire someone based on that fact alone. That being said, if I gave that impression to a person I interviewed, or showed that I discriminate against smokers in any way, I would supposedly get in a lot of trouble for discrimination, and potentially have to compensate that person because I discriminated against them.

That being said, I do know from experience that Smokers tend to have better social relationships in the business, and depending on the type of business they can also have better relationships with the customers than I as a non-smoker can achieve. (There's a common bond formed when you're out in the rain having a smoke, as well as the general fact that you're out there chatting about stuff while having a smoke.) So I know some businesses prefer to hire smokers because of the relationship building aspects. (Corporate Sales business I worked for had this unofficial policy, and it worked for them. Nothing like standing with the CEO having a smoke while your competition is inside waiting for their meeting)

So this entirely depends on the business that you're applying to, I personally would not smoke at all for the day before and the day of the interview. Go buy a new outfit (you can't smell the smoke, but some other people can zone in on a smoker like they are half bloodhound, even if you wash your outfit, they will know!) so buy a new outfit, and go for the interview. Once you're in, you're in. There's no need to bring up smoking unless they bring it up, or there's anything mentioned about it in your employee handbook/contract.

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    "I won't hire someone based on that fact alone" - so if you hire someone and then later discover he is a smoker within the first week or so, you would dismiss him?
    – Brandin
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 10:05
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    I would view it unfavorably, but it's unlikely I would dismiss the person because of it. there's a big difference between interviewee and employee, when you've crossed that point, the dynamic changes. I would not cater to their cravings myself, but I would not dismiss them.
    – TolMera
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 10:39
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    "Zone in on a smoker". Nice line. Being sensitive to the smell of any smoke I can. :-)
    – Neo
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 12:05
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    In the US, smoking is not a protected class, and so you are free to discriminate. I'm not saying you should, but you would not get in trouble for it. Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 16:35
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    You can bond and discuss things over a cup of tea as well, or over plenty of other things. If a company believes that smoking is somehow essential to build networks or whatever, they must have surely smoked their brains away.
    – Masked Man
    Commented Jan 26, 2017 at 17:20

While it is possible that the company will look at you differently, generally speaking it doesn't weigh very heavily compared to things like experience, attitude and fitting with the culture. Most companies I've seen, even the ones where the boss was vocally anti-smoking, hired smokers and gave them the freedom to smoke. (Outside, obviously)

Unless you have an identical twin with the exact same qualification who doesn't smoke, I don't think you should be concerned about it.

That said, you should definitely not smoke during your interview, because that's illegal. Smoking in the office isn't allowed. I would also try to avoid smoking right before, because of the smell that can be off-putting to some people.

Smoking after is generally fine. If the interviewer also smokes, you might even get a leg-up. I've seen that if the boss smokes, it will reflect favorably on subordinates that do the same because of building rapport during shared smoke-breaks.

  • Yeah I wasn't talking about smoking inside, but during any breaks I had between talks that day. I'll refrain from smoking before or during the day, like TolMera pointed out. Thanks! Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 8:16

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