What are they? They are the UK's newest social pariahs, more hated than politicians, more loathed than the royals, more shunned…

What are they?They are the UK's newest social pariahs, more hated than politicians, more loathed than the royals, more shunned than rabid dogs. Decent people dare not be seen in the company of these unclean creatures, and so they are banished from proper society and forced to congregate in special outdoor "corrals", where they will not offend others with their foul odours and noxious fumes.

Where can these snoutcasts be found?

Standing alone outside any pub, restaurant or office building, shivering and looking forlorn, sucking despondently on a cigarette. They are smokers who, following the recent smoking ban in the UK, must now step outside the premises to have a fag, and thus miss out on the scintillating discourse within.

But can't they simply indulge in a little "smirting" (smoking and flirting) while they stand outside?


The Brits are still in the early stages of smoking ban withdrawal, but give them some time and - like us - they'll come to appreciate the hidden benefits of the smoking ban. As Irish smokers have gotten used to conducting their social lives outdoors, beer gardens, marquees and outdoor smoking patios have mushroomed.

While non-smokers sit demurely inside a quiet half-empty pub, there'll be a wild party going on in the smoking section.

Why snoutcast?

In the UK, "snout" is slang for tobacco, hence the cockney rhyming slang, "salmon and trout". Since the smoking ban has come into effect, office workers have to step outside to "have a salmon", which can result in a big headache for the companies concerned.

How so?

Having a bunch of employees hanging around outside the entrance, blowing smoke at visitors and passers-by and stubbing out their butts on the ground is considered bad for a company's corporate image. In an attempt to keep their entrance areas clean and fresh, many organisations are providing dedicated smoking areas, and some of the bigger firms are putting in nice comfy chairs, ashtrays and a few plants to brighten up the area.

That's nice of them.

You can bet that if the managing director smokes, the smoking area will be particularly luxurious. Companies are beginning to accept that some of their employees will smoke, and that smoking does not necessarily lessen an employee's value, so they're embracing ways to keep them cosy and content, and not cast them out into the rain and sleet every time they want to "have a salmon". And when smirting catches on, expect to find more office romances blossoming in the smoking sections.

Try at home:

"In the end, I had to give up smoking - the rheumatism was killing me."

Try at work:

"Since that new receptionist arrived, Johnson in accounts has developed a 40-a-day smoking habit."

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist