is it acceptable to smoke during an online work meeting?

Q: Is it okay to smoke a cigarette during a Zoom meeting when I am sitting at my desk in my home office? D.E., Marrickville, NSW

Illustration by Simon Letch.Credit:

A: Anyone can smoke a ciggie at home, as long as you abide by the NSW Smoke-free Environment Act 2000. So take a quick squiz around your home office and make sure there are no churches, playgrounds, cinemas, libraries, swimming pool complexes or public transport platforms in the room with you. If you see a ferry docking in front of your desk, you’re too close to a ferry wharf. Go smoke in another room, a minimum of 10 metres away, with no ferries in it.

But even though you can smoke a ciggie at home, remember that a Zoom meeting is being held in a virtual workplace: it’s just like going to a regular meeting, except your co-workers are smaller and flatter, and you can touch their faces with your finger, which is something they might not let you do in a real-life meeting.

So if you start smoking, the second-hand smoke may drift into your co-workers’ Zoom spaces, exposing them to virtual digital toxins; just a few pixels of Zoom-smoke can cause acute mental distraction, chronic retinal irritation and general repulsed wincing. Nobody will be able to focus on anything, it’ll disrupt the whole meeting and the Zoom host may ask you to put out the cigarette, or go smoke out of sight, behind the computer, in the dark, dingy spot where the cables and roaches lurk.

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