The life of an astronaut can be incredibly stressful, especially when you’re living in confined quarters aboard the International Space Station. It is not an uncommon habit for people with high-stress lifestyles to pick up a habit such as smoking, but the question that stands is: Can astronauts smoke in space? Or better yet, would NASA even allow them to smoke in space?
To put it simply, no. Astronauts cannot smoke in space, and there are a variety of reasons why that is.
Can Astronauts Be Smokers?
Yes, astronauts can be smokers while on Earth. That is only if the smoking did not affect their overall health and training. Astronauts are required to pass a series of mental and physical tests before they are allowed into space. Due to this, most astronauts now do not smoke, but in the 1960s and 1970s, smoking was a major part of American culture. Half of the population during the 60s and 70s heavily smoked. The “Original Seven” astronauts were chosen for the program from various branches of the military, and they were known to be heavy smokers, though many of them chose to quit smoking due to their extraordinary circumstances.
Cultural normativity and expectations towards astronauts have since changed. The selection process has become far more rigorous and demanding, and the physical requirements the astronauts must meet have also changed. It is unlikely that modern astronauts are current smokers because it could jeopardize their chances of making it on the roster.
Can Astronauts Smoke In Space?
To put it shortly, the answer is no. This is due to a variety of reasons and safety concerns. NASA has strictly forbidden astronauts to not smoke or vape while in the shuttle or aboard the International Space Station, or ISS.
Becoming an astronaut and going into space is an opportunity many will dream about, but few will experience. Smoking can cause many health complications and you may become predisposed to heart problems, cancer, and other illnesses. Astronauts are required to be in tip-top shape: meaning their health and physical capabilities must meet a certain standard set by NASA or other space agencies.
Why Can’t Astronauts Smoke In Space?
In the 60s and 70s, reports were made that Russia sent their cosmonauts into space with packs of cigarettes, but that does not necessarily mean they smoked them. Back then, the expectations and acceptance of smoking cigarettes were far different than it is now. In modern times, the expectations of astronauts are far stricter, but so are the rules and regulations of being in space.
There are countless reasons why smoking, or even vaping, aboard a shuttle or the ISS is not allowed. Some of those reasons are:
- Smoke can harm the air quality aboard the ship or ISS, and potentially cause health issues for other members on board. Not only that, but the air filters aboard the ISS could become compromised due to the tar.
- Smoking is considered a fire hazard, especially aboard the ISS. This is because the station is in an extremely oxygen-rich environment, and it only takes one slip-up for a fire to get out of control. Spontaneous combustion is a serious worry for those who use oxygen tanks in their daily lives, the same logic is applied to the ISS.
- Cigarette smoke contains various harmful chemicals like carbon monoxide and tar, which, over time, can cause much damage to the equipment. Smoking or Vaping aboard the ISS can significantly reduce the lifespan of computers, air filters, and more.
The overall answer to “Can Astronauts Smoke in Space,” is no. Going into space is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Smoking or vaping serves as a moment of relaxation or may become habitual for some but the chance to go into space heavily outweighs the need or want to smoke.