I was listening to NPR this morning (as I often do on the way to work) and they mentioned that Italy enacted a nationwide ban of smoking in bars and restaurants. I’ve become used to this in NYC and Stamford — I still remember the first time I went to a bar where there was not any smoking, and remember thinking “gosh, this bar is pretty nice.” I couldn’t figure out what made everything so pleasant, what made all of the drinks taste better, and what made the food have flavor. It clicked on the way home, when my clothes didn’t require commercial laundering — there was no smoke at the bar. In any event, in a nation where the vast majority does not smoke, I think this sort of legislation makes sense, though smokers are virulent in their opposition. I figured that over time smoking bans would spread, but I hardly imagined I would be hearing news of it happening in Italy.
I guess I just don’t feel like the cancer death sticks should be damaging the health of other patrons in an establishment not devoted to smoking. I don’t have a problem with smoking in the privacy of your home/car, out on the streets (though the pollution aspect is a bitch), or in designated smoking rooms and so forth. As such, all of this melodrama around cigarette funerals and so forth to me seems a tad silly. I may, however, be missing something. I know smoking is sexy, and a big cultural aspect. Sarah made specific note that everybody smokes when she was last in France … to a certain extent, it seems fashionable here, as a coping mechanism, whereas it appears as though it is an intrinsic aspect of the culture in Europe. This reminds me that the American culture needs to be turned upside-down, but that’s a topic for another day. Of course, I say that having never been outside of the continental US, save for a few island trips, so there is little weight behind my argument.