Massage Therapy is an occupation where the Massage Therapist is up close and touching the patient/client. This is something that Therapists have to be mindful of at all times. Nicotine and cigarette smoke are unmistakably strong, (to some offensive) smells. These smells are not easily masked. No perfume, cologne or mouthwash seems to be greatly effective in eliminating this odor.
A major part of a good massage experience is the physical atmosphere of the room. That means a quiet, clean room, with a pleasant soothing scent or no scent at all. A Therapist who smokes can create this setting but he/she would have to be a very light smoker. Even this is risky, because some people are very sensitive to the smell of smoke and can detect even a light scent of tobacco.
We also have to consider some of the unpleasant byproducts of this habit. A main one is “Smoker’s Cough”. I attended a course on Medical Massage Therapy conducted by a Licensed Massage Therapist who was an obvious heavy smoker. How did I know? He paused frequently, throughout his lecture and demonstrations, to cough. He knew his subject quite well. He was a good teacher and a well experienced Massage Therapist.
But I could not help wondering what his patients/clients experienced when they came to him for therapy. Imagine lying on a massage table trying to relax and having to contend with, not only that strong smell of cigarette smoke, but also a disquieting cough throughout the massage. Back in Massage Therapy school we were not allowed to discriminate against students who smoked as we gave each other practice massages.
Having a smoker Therapist give you a facial massage often had a direct opposite intended effect. It is hard to relax and breathe calmly when your nose is assaulted by the smell of nicotine from the Therapist’s fingers. I empathize with Therapists who smoke. How difficult it is to quit, is well documented. But it is also undeniably evident, that smoking is health hazard for both Massage Therapist and patient/client.
The other issue here is that a major benefit of massage therapy is to help rid the body of toxins. Second hand smoke from a Therapist’s clothing, hands, hair or breath, poisons the air. Is it okay for Massage Therapists to be smokers? Smoking tobacco is not an illegal activity.
But the intended benefits of massage therapy and the noxious effects of tobacco smoke should make a smoker who is, or is considering becoming a Massage Therapist; quit one or the other pursuit.