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Miss Manners: Still impolite to e-smoke in public

Mon., Jan. 28, 2013, midnight

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Where is it impolite to e-smoke? Does modern etiquette differ from historical smoking etiquette, when it was common and socially acceptable to smoke? In particular, is it improper to e-smoke when giving a speech?

Does it hurt one’s public image if I e-smoke when I do speaking engagements? I normally dress up for those, but I’m in technology, where mores are quite lax and jeans are quite common.

Will it hurt my image if I were to e-smoke while giving an engaging and riveting talk?

Historically, when smoking was common and socially acceptable: Would professors smoke pipes during lectures? Have any presidents been known to smoke during speeches?

GENTLE READER: While sharing your interest in history, Miss Manners apparently reads more of it than you do. The smoky society you describe existed only in the middle decades of the 20th century; before that, it was not tolerated.

In the preceding decades and centuries, smokers, also known then as gentlemen, did not smoke in the presence of nonsmokers, then known as ladies, without their express permission, which could be politely withheld.

When ladies began to smoke openly, the rules were regrettably abandoned. Even so, an occasional professor might have clutched his pipe, but it was not the rule. It was not then known that smoking caused cancer, and President Franklin Roosevelt was rarely seen without his cigarette holder, but by the time presidential speeches were televised, his successors refrained.

You ask about your public image. To those who recognize electronic cigarettes, you would appear to be someone struggling to give up smoking and therefore relying on a crutch.

But here is the crushing part: Everyone will be thinking “He’s smoking,” rather than paying attention to your riveting words.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,

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