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Apr 5, 2012 05:21 PM

Cigarette smoke gets in your food

Scenario A:

Greek Resto X was a two hour drive from home and had delicious moussaka. I happened to be in the area on business and ordered take-out. My mouth was watering during the drive home bec it had been over a year since I’d been there. When I got home and warmed the dish it had absorbed cigarette smoke from the resto bar and was ruined.

Scenario B:

There’s a dear elderly friend who is always welcome at the holiday table. She is a great cook and often brings a side dish despite her advanced age and fragile health condition. Problem is she’s a chain smoker and her food sometimes tastes like cigarettes. It’s hit or miss depending on if the dish has come directly from the oven to the table or if it’s been sitting in the house for awhile. (Once she gave me a batch of cookies that were so saturated with smoke they were inedible.) I’ve never said anything bec she’s very sensitive and her friendship is more important. I just discretely push the food together to make it look like I’ve eaten some and dispose of the offending dish after she’s gone.

Can anyone relate to any of this?

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  1. Both of my parents smoked when I was growing up. My father was a heavy smoker but quit when I was 12. My mother smoked less than a 1/2 a pack a day but did not quit until she was 60. In all that time I never remember food that tasted like cigarettes. I also never remember my mother smoking anywhere near the stove or while she was standing over the stove. I suppose I can understand the cookies and food tasting of smoke but I'm a bit mystified about the Greek food. Is it common for restaurants to allow cooks to smoke IN the kitchen? The only way I could explain it is if the take-out styrofoam box absorbed smoke in some manner.

    20 Replies
    1. re: John E.

      Both of my parents smoked while I was growing up and since we were so immersed in the cigarette smoke permeating everything in the house (not to mention stores, restaurants etc., we went to back then in the 60s and 70s) we probably did not notice it in the food. But these days where I hardly encounter cigarette smoke anywhere, I can definitely smell it on food, etc., if it has been exposed to it. My partner's mother (a lifetime smoker) sends us candy and the like at different holidays and I can smell cigarette smoke as soon as I open the box. I can even smell cigarette smoke from the car in front of mine when stopped at a red light...with the windows closed. Some of us are just very sensitive to certain smells the same way others of us are very sensitive to certain flavors and tastes, like anchovies and cilantro for example.

      1. re: ttoommyy

        I do not disagree that some people are sensitive to cigarette smoke and back in the day we were probably used to cigarette smoke but I have never encountered it recently in food. I walked past somebody yesterday and got a huge whiff of cigarette smoke. Thankfully, that happens less and less these days. Just the other day the Minnesota Twins closed the only remaining place where smokers could light up at Target Field. It wasn't even in the ballpark, but on the plaza outside the ballpark but when the wind was just right the smoke wafted up and into the concourse. So while they used to allow people to leave and get a smoke and return, that is no longer the case.

        1. re: John E.

          "but I have never encountered it recently in food."

          Which is probably due to the fact that most places do not allow smoking anywhere near food these days. Perhaps the restaurant the OP visited was an exception.

        2. re: ttoommyy

          My BF's mom is a chain smoker. It hits me when I go in the house, but then I don't notice it while I'm there. I guess since I'm surrounded by it, I've never tasted it in the food. But I suppose if she were to bring a dish over to our house, it would be a different story.

          1. re: ttoommyy

            You can smell smoke from a car in froint of you at red light with its windows closed???????????????

            i think you need to talk to someone about this.....and not on Chowhoud

            1. re: FriedClamFanatic

              It wasn't specified whose windows were closed. If the poster's windows were closed but the smoker's were open, the smell could easily come in through the vents. Much like the stench from the sewage treatment facility I pass on the way to work every day.... >.<

              1. re: Kontxesi

                I will believe that when I see some empirical evidence........One car with a smoker at a redlight...IN FRONT....and another or the others windoews closed? It defies belief

                1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                  It's happened to me. My windows closed but A/C or vents on and smokers car in front of me at a red light with its windows open. I am very sensitive to the smell of cigarette smoke. Why can't you just believe someone when the say they are? Why would we make this up?

                  1. re: ttoommyy

                    I can smell cigarettes in traffic too. I quit a few years ago but am aware when I am exposed to it. Strangely though, it doesn't offend me. Most ex smokers cannot stand the smell

                    1. re: ttoommyy

                      I too can smell cigarette smoke from the car in front of me, if at a red light or very slow speed and the smokers car windows are open. Has happened more than a few times.

                    2. re: FriedClamFanatic

                      No, it is definitely for real. I can smell it from the car in front of me at a light too. Most drivers that are smoking have their drivers side window open a bit and they tend to blow it out the window as much as they can. It drifts back to my car with the window open a crack or with my vents open. I notice it in the summer more than any other time.

                      It is disgusting because once it is in your car, it lingers long after the light changes!

                      1. re: sedimental

                        "Most drivers that are smoking have their drivers side window open a bit and they tend to blow it out the window as much as they can"

                        Non-smokers often describe the behavior of smokers. 'This is what the guy in the car in front of me is doing.'

                        I don't know any smokers who behave as you describe.

                        1. re: FrankJBN

                          Almost every driver I see (and know) that smokes, does not smoke in their car with the windows rolled up. They couldn't see or breathe air if they did, and they don't typically blow it in the direction of their passenger. Every single smoker I have been in a car with, cracks the drivers side window when they get into the car...then they light up. The drivers window is the one that is open.That is my experience and observation.

                      2. re: FriedClamFanatic

                        hey fried clam fanatic...I too love fried clams...i worked at Howard Johnsons as a kid and my free meal everyday was a clam dog...Over the years Ive noticed that clams just arent on menus the way they used to be and they are even hard to find frozen in stores too...Imagine my surprise when I went to a Golden Coral in Lakeland,(yes I said Golden Coral) and there was a huge pan of fried clams with tartar or red sauce...I jumped for joy and Ill go back there just for those...Im not sure if all of the Golden Corals have them but you might check out one near you...

                        1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                          It happens to me constantly in LA traffic. This is from a smoker in front of me, blowing smoke out of their window. I can smell it, even though my windows are rolled up, because there is a vent that pulls outside air into my car. I've become adept at the quick - push the "shut the outside vent" button on my car maneuver. It has a "recirculate air" symbol on it - you can't do it indefinitely or you run the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. If I don't do that, the smell seeps into my car.

                          1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                            to Fried clam fanatic:

                            Here's some empirical evidence: I smell it, everyone in my car smells it, and YOU'D smell it with windows open in both cars.

                            Step two: the smoker's window open - that's the one near you with smoke coming out - closing your windows does the same as closing them while driving past cows on I-5 in California, a diesel vehicle, or a regular car or truck that's burning oil. You have to ALREADY have "recirc" on, closing windows and pushing recirc is typically too late.

                            Step 3: the concentrated cigarette smoke odor dissipates almost immediately, (then you pick it up again if you near the offending car again, even if moving). The cow and exhaust smells: not so much.

                            Step 4: try the items discussed above. Now you got it: I smell it, they smell it, and you'll smell it, period.

                            ...hey, you ever smelled cigarette odor in your food? ..I haven't, but it sounds terrible

                            1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                              Happens to me all the time. whether cigarette or cigar. The guy if front blows smoke out the window and the front intake on may car inhales and blows ito the cab.

                          2. re: FriedClamFanatic

                            i can smell smoke from a car in front of me at a red light when my windows are closed.

                            1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                              Absolutely. And I smoked for 15 years and have been an ex for nearly 20. Never smelled it on food though.


                        2. It's some years since I stopped smoking (used to be 40 a day). The memory fades but I don't recall smoking when I was cooking but it's always possible that I did.

                          As for the bar/restaurant - where I am, smoking is banned by law inside public buildings. And, no, I don't agree with the law.

                          1. my grandma smoked while she cooked, ash used to fall in food sometimes and get spooned out. I never remember any smell or taste of smoking in our food.

                            I go to a very smokey dive bar once or twice a week to eat and drink and nobody there complains of smokey tasting food including the non smokers of whom there are many.

                            I think perhaps you are being overly sensitive.

                            1. Yep. There is a gas station/convenience store down the road from the house, and it is always full of smokers. I don't even buy bottled soda there, because the bottles smell like smoke. (I try not to go inside at all--2 minutes in line to pay for my gas and I reek of smoke all day.

                              I can certainly believe that the packaging for your moussaka had absorbed smoke, and during your drive it transferred to your dinner. Ditto for your friend's cookies--they sat on the counter to cool, she put them into something that was saturated with smoke--tobacco infused cookies.

                              1. Nope can't relate. I don't smoke myself but never had the slightest inkling of smoke smell on food.

                                I've heard of taste buds tasting things wrong, my Mom gets that from her allergies, maybe something like that?