Cigarette Smoker Body Language

How office addicts take their cigarette breaks says a lot about them
Illustration by Joseph Lambert

Half a century after the Mad Men era, smoking at the office has lost all its glamour. For one thing, no one smokes in the office anymore. Today’s smokers—holding steady since 2005 at 20 percent of U.S. adults—are relegated to ghettos in front of their buildings, where they band together in secondhand solidarity and endure the judgment of their pure-lunged peers. “It’s socialized isolation around the need to gain rewards from a product that they’re addicted to,” says Dr. Gregory Connolly, director of the Center for Global Tobacco Control at the Harvard School of Public Health. “It borders on leperization. You can only feel for those individuals because they’ve lost any social benefit from smoking and they’re primarily treating withdrawal symptoms.” Bloomberg Businessweek spent a day watching smokers outside buildings in midtown Manhattan. To make sense of the observations, we called on Dr. Connolly, as well as Dr. Stanton Glantz, director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California at San Francisco; body-language expert David Givens, author of Your Body at Work; and leather-faced, tough-guy character actor Danny Trejo (Grindhouse, Machete, TV’s Breaking Bad), who proudly gave up his 40-year smoking habit last year.

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