Hey, Europe. Smoking is bad for you.

September 27, 2009

A few years ago, Paris outlawed smoking in all its restaurants. This move was similar in kind to laws that have been in place in America for more than a decade, but it lacked teeth.

That’s to say that enforcement was laissez-faire in the extreme.

The only way the French marked off their non-smoking areas was by figuring out who was smoking and making that the smoking area. Everything else – even if it consisted of one table near the toilet or the kitchen, or if it was surrounded by other smoking tables – was the non-smoking section.


That changed a little over time. Now Paris has distinct sections where you can be relatively smoke-free and only enjoy a whif of that great smell with your food about 30% of the time.

Guess who hasn’t got the message? The REST OF CONTINENTAL EUROPE.

It’s true. On my current journey through Germany, Austria and Switzerland, I have yet to find a restaurant that clearly keeps smokers out of the inside dining room. Some cafes have bent to tourists’ insistance or saw their business go elsewhere – so they adjusted.

But for the most part it’s a delight to see someone puffing on a cigarette whilst they munch on their sausages or eggs. The best part for me is watching chain-smoking diners light a cigarette, smoke it down to a nub, take two bites of their meal and then light up another cancer stick.

Are people over here dumber than at home?

Is smoking cooler if you do it in an exotic or Euopean setting?

I wish someone would tell me. What do you think of smoking? What do you think of smoking in restaurants? What do you think of smokers?

More to come…