I smoked cigarettes for many years and was largely oblivious to the stale tobacco odors that permeated my body, my hair and my clothes. Once in a while, non-smoking partners would complain about the smell, but I shrugged it off. Such is the nature of smokers. Such is the addiction of nicotine. Smokers’ need for a fix too often trumps everybody else’s concerns.
It wasn’t until after I quit smoking in 2008 that I realized just how strong, and how bad, those lingering body odors are. If you’re a non-smoker, you no doubt know exactly what I am talking about. If you are near anyone who has had a smoke recently, you smell them before you see them. I’ve used bank ATMs that wreaked of tobacco after smokers before me had used them. Sometimes the smell is so strong — say, someone who had a smoke before entering a small room — it pollutes the whole area.
Still, we have to put up with it because smoking is not illegal yet. So, we just screw up our noses and try to move away from the offending odors. But it’s not so easy to do that when you are lying in a hospital bed and the nurse attending you has recently had a smoke. I encountered a few such nurses in my recent medical adventure.
It’s not for me to judge, but you’d think hospitals would have a rule prohibiting nurses and doctors from smoking during work hours. There are all sorts of smoking cessation aids, like Nicorettes, that one can take to quell the nicotine cravings during long airplane journeys and such. The medical staff could use them during their shifts, and smoke at home later.
Better still, maybe hospitals should be doing more to help their employees kick the habit. Duh . . .