Smoking Etiquette for Rooftop Bars and Restaurants

All you need to know.

June 28, 2023

In recent years, rooftop spaces have become popular spots for both dining and entertainment. Aside from the stunning, sky-high views that make for a relaxing atmosphere, a previous post listing the ‘Reasons to Visit Rooftop Bars’ mentions that rooftop bars offer an air of exclusivity that you won’t really get anywhere else. But despite this aspect of uniqueness, it's still important to remember that rooftop bars and restaurants are still shared public spaces.

This means that certain habits like smoking may not be well-accepted by everyone, especially since they can risk the health of everyone around you. So, if you’re a smoker planning to experience rooftop bars and restaurants, here’s the etiquette you should follow to ensure that you and your fellow patrons can drink and dine harmoniously.

Look into smoke-free laws and policies

The first step is to always do your research on smoking-related policies. Research by Semple et al. highlights smoke-free measures as one of the central elements of tobacco control and the reduction of health risks from secondhand smoke exposure. This urges more and more countries to adopt comprehensive national smoke-free policies, while Australia, New Zealand, and many states in the US similarly prohibit smoking in public places and leisure settings like bars and restaurants. However, if your chosen rooftop venue is in a state or country without 100% smoke-free policies, looking into the establishment’s specific policy is a good idea. For instance, some venues might allow smoking as long as food and beverages are not being prepared or served to patrons, while others have a dedicated smoking area.

Bring smoke-free alternatives

While others resort to e-cigarettes to stay smoke-free, these are not exactly viable alternatives due to the harmful secondhand aerosols they produce in open spaces like rooftops. Thus, your best options are oral nicotine products, with many gum brands like Nicorette providing nicotine without emitting any odor or smoke and contributing to a global push to end smoking addiction. Nicotine gums also vary by dosage (2/4/6mg) to cater to smokers of different smoking histories and frequencies. Meanwhile, pouches are a more discreet smoke-free alternative that you can simply tuck under the lip for direct nicotine delivery. Online retailer Prilla notes that the spit from nicotine pouches can also be swallowed because pouches only contain nicotine, natural fibers, and other flavorings. This delivery format is thus convenient and mess-free, especially when you feel like satisfying your cravings while drinking, eating, and mingling with other guests at rooftop venues.

Ask for permission

Even if the smoking guidelines are lax at your chosen venue, it doesn’t hurt to ask nearby patrons and your companions before you light one up. For one, someone nearby could be particularly sensitive to smoke due to their age or underlying health problems. There could also be people who are trying to quit or limit their smoking and could therefore benefit from avoiding their triggers. Lastly, if you plan to leave the table for a short smoke break between meal courses or rounds of drinks, it is always respectful to give other guests a heads-up first.

Dispose of waste properly

Aside from being a health risk, cigarettes can also have adverse effects on the environment. An NCBI article explains how tobacco smoking, contributes to a significant portion of toxic environmental waste, as smokers typically litter their surroundings with poorly degradable cigarette butts and filters. Failing to discard cigarette butts properly after use is also one of the leading causes of rooftop fires, making fire safety a priority by properly extinguishing cigarette butts before leaving the open area. Make sure to dispose of cigarette butts and other smoking paraphernalia in the proper disposal bins instead of leaving them in planter boxes or potted plants where they take a long time to degrade and may even ignite fires.

Ultimately, the best way to prevent rooftop fires and keep rooftop spaces safe and healthy for all patrons is to kick the habit completely. At the very least, you can also opt for smoke-free alternatives like nicotine replacement products to show your respect for the establishments, the staff, and your fellow guests.