Newport Etiquette + Manners: Smoking Etiquette

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


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Smoking always raises a cloud of etiquette questions... this week's concerns the increasingly common e-cigarette.

Banning e-smoking and vaporing, where to draw the line in Smoking Etiquette? Should my boss keep all my tips? Wedding etiquette for the groom's mom when the bride's parents paid the bills. Supporting an employee's self-confidence. All burning questions asked to Didi Lorillard at this week.

E-smoking Etiquette

Dear Didi,

Our daughter brought a friend home for the weekend who smoked 'natural' cigarettes. We said she had to smoke in the backyard because we don't allow smoking in the house. Then she produced an e-cigarette inside when it rained. As hosts, should we have let her smoke inside? S.P., Watch Hill

Dear S.P.,

As of this writing, e-cigarettes are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and until studies prove they are a health hazard, so-called vapers can puff away without stigma in otherwise restricted areas such as outside hospitals and in schoolyards. Some clubs, bars and restaurants have banned e-smoking outright. It's your house, set the boundaries. "No smoking, no vaporing." No matter what they call it, if it's addicting, it can't be healthy and at the dinner table it's still disgusting. Although for longtime smokers electronic cigarettes could be the first step toward quitting a bad habit. ~Didi

When your boss keeps your tips

Dear Didi,

I work at a frozen yogurt shoppe. There is a tip jar on the counter by the register. I am the only worker on the premises when the owners aren't there. My question is this, when customers put tips in the jar, whose are they? I got in trouble for taking a penny out of this jar to help a customer out with her bill the other day. The owners saw me take the penny out on the security video tape from their cell phones. I am the only employee besides the owners and they take all the tips for themselves whether they are working or not. It's only me working every evening when most of the tips are put in the tip jar. Name and location withheld

Dear Anonymous,

You are between a rock and a hard place. If you complain, you could lose your job. Criticism destroys relationships so you probably don't have much of a chance of talking to them about the problem and having it go your way. However, you can recommend that they instate a small penny pot next to the tip jar, so that they don't catch you on the video again taking a penny from the tip jar to help out a customer.

If they agree to the penny pot, suggest that you deserve half of the tips––or even a third––and see what they say? At the very least it will start your greedy bosses thinking about the unfairness of the unshared tips. Don't you wonder whether they report those tips to the IRS? ~Didi

No more self-deprecating phrases

Dear Didi,

A woman who works for me in an executive position prefaces her communications using self-discounting language, which, in my opinion, renders her powerless. In person, over the phone, in e-mails and letters she makes herself sound powerless. Is there a polite way to ask her to, please, not use expressions such as, "I'm sorry to have to bother you." "Can I trouble you with a question?" And, the most annoying, "I'm wondering if...." W.G., Providence

Dear W.G.,

Those phrases don't project confidence. Most of us "sweet little girls" were brought up to be nice and do everything right. Habits are hard to break. Take her out to lunch. Tell her how you feel about her overuse of self-deprecating phrases after praising her for a recent accomplishment. Be her supporter. Let her know you have confidence in her abilities and that you are encouraging her to use language that reflects that confidence. ~Didi

When only one family pays for the wedding

Hello Didi,

Thank goodness for your advice—it helped before the wedding and now that it's over, and my son is married, I have one final question. My son's parents-in-law paid entirely for the wedding (I'm widowed and don't have much) and it was spectacular. Should I write a letter thanking them for the wedding? Lise, New Haven, CT

Dear Lise,

Definitely send a sweet, short note mentioning your favorite recollections from the wedding. Thank them for making your son's wedding extraordinarily special and spectacular. You can add that you are pleased to be part of such a gracious and lovely extended family, if that is indeed the truth. ~Didi

Do you have a question to ask Didi? Email it to [email protected] or visit her at If we use your question, we can withhold your name and address. Didi researches etiquette and all matters of manners for her book,"Newport Etiquette." Prior weekly GoLocalProv columns are listed below. More topics can be accessed through a search.


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