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The Crazy Complicated World of Victorian Etiquette

The Rules of Smoking

Smoking was a big deal for the menfolk. In polite society, after dinner the men would stay in the dining room or retire to the library or study (depending on the size of the home), while ladies would go into the parlor and this was partially so that the men could smoke and drink at their leisure without offending the ladies. It was forbidden for men to smoke in front of ladies.

This piece of etiquette is the very reason why smoking jackets existed at all: a man would wear his smoking jacket while puffing away, thereby saving his wife from having to smell the smoke on his regular jacket, which would have been worn often inside the house.

Smoking also dictated manners on the street. It was considered quite rude for a man to approach a woman while smoking a cigar. If he was a polite man, he would be compelled by his sense of decorum to extinguish his cigar or at least remove it from his mouth in the unexpected presence of a lady!

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