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Ce n'est pas une cigarette
February 3, 2007 6:03 AM   Subscribe

Ce n'est pas une cigarette France is the latest to ban smoking in public, joining Spain, Italy, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, the Ukraine, and the U.S. among others. This short article from The Atlantic shows the long history of countries attempting to ban smoking, from Pope Urban VIII to Hitler. Somehow I think these bans are here to stay.
posted by papoon (49 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Although some local governments have enacted types of smoking bans, to say that the U.S. has banned "smoking in public" might not be correct...but hey, Bush could have been the "decider" and done it while I was asleep.
posted by HuronBob at 6:13 AM on February 3, 2007


So even France is bowing to the antics of Pope Urban VIII and Adolf Hitler?
posted by sour cream at 6:22 AM on February 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


Apologies, HuronBob. Your are quite correct. Unfortunately for me, every state I've lived in for the past 10 years has had a smoking ban in place. (It feels like the whole country to me.) A quick search online shows at least 35 states having some sort of regulation over smoking in public.
posted by papoon at 6:30 AM on February 3, 2007


the more smoking bans take effect, the more like a vicious assault a smoke filled room seems.

I can't believe we put up with public smoking as long as we did. I remember when my dad was complaining about smokers in his office-- why did anyone think that was ok?
posted by norm at 6:48 AM on February 3, 2007


I think "smoking in some public spaces" is what you are looking for. Otherwise you are implying it is not allowed in any public space, and I'm pretty sure the gendarmes aren't gonna be taking out sidewalk smokers.
posted by dame at 6:49 AM on February 3, 2007


Huh, France just scored a few more points in my book. In contrast to Papoon, I've been happy to have lived in a number of states which have banned smoking in various degrees. The less I'm around smoke, the more I find it repugnant when I do encounter it.
posted by Atreides at 6:51 AM on February 3, 2007


"I can't believe we put up with public smoking as long as we did. I remember when my dad was complaining about smokers in his office-- why did anyone think that was ok?"

Watching an old movie the other day with my kids, and there's a scene on a plane where half the passengers are smoking - and my daughter looks at me and says "People used to smoke on planes? How stupid was that?"
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:54 AM on February 3, 2007


Christ, even I used to smoke on planes. I'm old.
posted by dabitch at 6:55 AM on February 3, 2007


So even France is bowing to the antics of Pope Urban VIII and Adolf Hitler?

I was in Germany a while back and it's quite interesting - the government is very reluctant to ban smoking, in the same way that it's reluctant to invade Poland, as it was one of Hitler's policies.
posted by muthecow at 6:57 AM on February 3, 2007


I can't believe we put up with public smoking as long as we did.

That's funny. I can.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:58 AM on February 3, 2007


"Christ, even I used to smoke on planes. I'm old."

I was old enough, but I didn't get on a plane until I was 30 and they'd banned it by then. I do remember a bunch of friends freaking out over the ban, though. "How the hell am I going to survive a four-hour flight without a smoke? I'll wig out and kill someone!"
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:09 AM on February 3, 2007


The next year, the Colony of Connecticut restricts citizens to one smoke a day, “not in company with any other.”

Huh. Weird.

What exactly was the reasoning for a smoking ban back in 17somethingsomething? They didn't discover smoking was bad for you until some time in the 1950s*, so why ban smoking? Just because it smelled bad? I would think a lot of Colonial America would have smelled pretty damned awful, so I have a hard time imagining the powdered noses turning up at the scent of tobacco. Maybe I'm wrong though. Maybe the Founding Fathers were really very delicate.


*Incidentally, recently I saw an old ad from the 30s praising Camel cigarettes as the #1 choice of doctors and my brain nearly melted.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:15 AM on February 3, 2007


I was in Germany a while back and it's quite interesting - the government is very reluctant to ban smoking, in the same way that it's reluctant to invade Poland, as it was one of Hitler's policies.

Hitler? WTF? Because bar and restaurant owners no longer have the right to expose their staff - and their customers - to a hazardous work environment?
posted by three blind mice at 7:20 AM on February 3, 2007


France won't enforce this. I was in De Gaulle retrieving my my luggage recently and there were LOTS of assholes smoking at the fucking luggage carousel! Under a big french "no smoking" sign.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:28 AM on February 3, 2007


Bah! Nannystate bullshit. Smoke eaters and air filters, while often expensive, would work and allow people to smoke (and bar owners to do what they want to with their property).
So sez this non-smoker.
posted by klangklangston at 7:30 AM on February 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't smoke, and I don't like being around smoke, particularly indoors, but I don't understand why everyone is so keen on having the government decide which vices we get to engage in and which we do not.

Life is inherently risky, and the government shouldn't be in the business of protecting us from ourselves. If someone wants to worsen the risks they face by smoking, eating fatty foods, riding a motorcycle, or whatever, they should be free to do so.

No one is forced to work in or patronize a restaurant, bar, or airline that allows smoking.
posted by noahpoah at 7:36 AM on February 3, 2007 [3 favorites]


I completely agree with noah. If you get botherd because someone else is smoking, and therefore disrupting you, why cant smokers be botherd that your not allowing them to smoke, and disrupting them? Any private establishment that wants to let people smoke should be able to do that. The waitresses have to sign copntracts saying they dont mind. The customers will have the choice of giving a bar that allows smoking their buisness.

Why cant a big airline run a "smokers flight" that uses the same plane over and over again on a popular route? Its not like your accidentaly gonig to get tickets for a flight thats advertised as for smokers only.
posted by Suparnova at 7:51 AM on February 3, 2007


Yeah, but smoking bans aren't being brought in for the benefit of people that hate smoke-filled bars - one assumes these people would happily gravitate towards non-smoking-throughout places, so the market could happily solve the problem and bars would loudly trumpet their "ABSOLUTELY NO SMOKE, GUARANTEED!" policies.

The bans are for smokers (so smoking becomes even more inconvenient, and they're more inclined to quit) and non-smokers who don't really mind smoke (to keep them away from T3H CANCERZZ that they would otherwise happily expose themselves to.) Basically, the theory is that people don't value their health to the extent that the goverment deems appropriate.

Noah: No one is forced to work in or patronize a restaurant, bar, or airline that allows smoking.

Yeah, but that's like saying nobody's "forced" to work in places with egregerious health and safety dangers, for less than the minimum wage, etc etc. The idea isn't that any individual is forced to do so, but that it's distasteful that it happens at all.

(I say all this as a smoker in the UK, mildly terrified by the ban that's coming in July. I get the idea, but I think a more measured approach [requiring licenses for a bar to allow smoking, limiting their availability, charging for them, etc] would have been a fairer first step. It seems faintly unfair that smoking is now Utterly Prohibited while BigCorps can happily trade in emissions permits, etc.)

Oh, and Suparnova, lookie here.
posted by so_necessary at 8:21 AM on February 3, 2007


Let the market decide!
posted by Falconetti at 8:25 AM on February 3, 2007


I don't like it. Luckily, as an earlier poster mentioned, the law and what actually happens is not identical everywhere in the world.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:32 AM on February 3, 2007


I have been a smoker for 10 years and one day I managed to quit cold turkey , that was a very good choice from many point of view. Hard to believe for a smoker, but I managed to quit and wasn't that big a deal.

But I sympathize with smokers, quitting isn't _the same_ as just stopping doing something, there is a psycological addiction ongoing and some dopamine level tolerance kicking in. Yet, quitting can be done.

Yet I see that many of my fellow smokers don't give a fuck about their smoke bothering others. What about passing MY gas (and I ate beans) on YOUR face , just because I like so ? I bet you would complain.

Why cant a big airline run a "smokers flight" that uses the same plane over and over again on a popular route?

Because it would cost them too much and they don't give a fuck, unless of course you pay them more. Hey I got an idea, go ask tobacco companies why aren't they opening smoker restaurants , smokers bar and smokers anything ?

*Surprise* they are in the biz for _profit_ not to make smokers happy !

Why doesn't Philips Morris finance air extraction systems , offer them to restaurants for free ? *More of the Same*

----------------

Smoke aside, from an economical point of view this is interesting , externalities may play a more relevant role then we think.
posted by elpapacito at 8:38 AM on February 3, 2007


Christ, even I used to smoke on planes. I'm old.

smoking on planes seems far more normal to me than smoking in an office. I've never worked anywhere that a person would smoke without "going out for a smoke break" but I remember smoking on planes, which means it can't have completely been banned until maybe 10 years ago...

No one is forced to work in or patronize a restaurant, bar, or airline that allows smoking.

You're confusing human beings with completely rational and non-social creatures. When smoking is "the norm" it's seen as prissy and authoritarian to not allow customers to smoke. Before the law banned smoking in bars and restaurants in NYC, no business was going to take that risk. Smokers made essentially the same argument you do, but individually rather than as a group - it was "a personal choice" and to go to a restaurant that did not allow individuals to make that choice would be unfair to the individual. The notion that non-smokers would find cigarette smoking distasteful was considered petty; the 'second-hand smoke' argument for health reasons was considered weak (and probably is weak; it's really about the air quality not future health risks).

Anyway, these bans have significantly altered the 'culture' of smoking. I've never been addicted to cigarettes, but I used to indulge in them when out at bars because it just seemed to "go with" alcohol. I remember being completely shocked the first time I visited a state that had bars where you could not smoke. Now that connection is much less ingrained, and I regularly go for a drink without cigarettes crossing my mind. It also seems to me that fewer "cool kids" are smokers these days.

When I was in high school, there was a section of the school grounds officially set aside for smoking (even though almost none of the students would have been of legal age to smoke!). People don't decide to take up habits purely based on some kind of physical-chemical benefit analysis. Humans make choices soaked in meaning, social expectation, normative behavior, perceived connotations, vague unexamined assumptions, and lots more besides. SOmetimes we have to override years of collectively habituated perception with larger reflective social impositions.
posted by mdn at 8:46 AM on February 3, 2007


meta
posted by cortex at 8:58 AM on February 3, 2007


The ban isn't quite happening fast enough in France. They've delayed the ban on smoking in restaurants and bars for another year, most likely because those businesses are afraid of losing business.

And then there is the question of enforcement. In most places in Paris people are already pretty polite about not smoking, so I think an outright ban will go well. But then again the French can be quite stubborn about petty laws.
posted by Nelson at 9:12 AM on February 3, 2007


I guess I'm pleased to see a state heading towards consistent prohibition of drugs, but I was kinda hoping they'd head towards it the other way, especially considering how utterly impossible it will be to outlaw alcohol.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 9:16 AM on February 3, 2007


But I sympathize with smokers

i'm happy you feel for me, elpapacito, even though you do not know me, but i am not looking for anyone's sympathy. i happen to enjoy smoking.


pretty sure the gendarmes aren't gonna be taking out sidewalk smokers

don't be too sure about that, dame. the intolerance is unrelenting.

www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2007/01/29/EDGC7N72CG1.DTL
posted by brandz at 9:18 AM on February 3, 2007


I'm moving to the Netherlands. The brown cafe's, so called because of the nicotine stains on the walls and ceiling, are a national treasure. And if they ban those, they'll set up coffee bars where stigmatized users can buy tobacco from a menu at the counter, and smoke it using the house bong/rolling papers/vapourizer.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:38 AM on February 3, 2007


i happen to enjoy smoking

I happened to enjoy it too, pretty much. 40 cigs a day tell you how much I enjoyed it. Don't want to quit ? Fine with me.

Because I don't need your sympathizing with the ones annoyed by smoke, as you are on the receiving end of the annoyance this time.

How does feel like when you don't like what others are doing to you ?

HA HA.Asshole.
posted by elpapacito at 11:00 AM on February 3, 2007


Yeah, but that's like saying nobody's "forced" to work in places with egregerious health and safety dangers

Which begs the question of just how dangerous second-hand smoke really is. If this is being done for the health of the restaurant and bar employees, surely they should first establish that second-hand smoke contributes to a dangerous work environment. (Link summary: It doesn't.)
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:12 AM on February 3, 2007


civili : thanks for the link to the study, very interesting
These findings suggest that the effects of environmental tobacco smoke, particularly for coronary heart disease, are considerably smaller than generally believed

Active cigarette smoking was confirmed as a strong, dose related risk factor for coronary heart disease, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
OK if one wants to die, pick your poison.

Yet am I missing something or the study doesn't cover bar/restaurant workers ? One would guess these workers are more exposed as one would expect , at least in not well ventilated spaces, a cloud of smoke.
posted by elpapacito at 11:46 AM on February 3, 2007


The political implications of Obama's smoking habit.

synopsis: hurts him in Dem stgrongholds of urban NY and CA; might help him in south, west where seen as rugged noncomformism hypermasculine trait
posted by Rumple at 12:07 PM on February 3, 2007


grapefruitmoon: What exactly was the reasoning for a smoking ban back in 17somethingsomething? They didn't discover smoking was bad for you until some time in the 1950s*, so why ban smoking?

These 3 chapters from the Consumers Union report on drugs are instructive:

Tobacco
Nicotine as an addicting drug
Cigarettes - and the 1964 report of the Surgeon General's Advisory Committee
posted by daksya at 12:15 PM on February 3, 2007


Banning cigarettes in French public places is like banning whores in brothels.
posted by milarepa at 1:17 PM on February 3, 2007


Hello, I'm a cigar smoker. Being cigar more smelly people tend to hate us cigarsmokers even more. I can understand why. So, I smoke generally at my home, bothering no one (not considering my family :)).
I have no problem with the new italian law (one of the few good things that the Berlusconi's government did). there's just one thing: you can only do smoking areas using some pricey ventilation systems, and those area can occupy just one part of your bar/restaurant. So, for example, you can't do a smokers-friendly cinema (how cool is that? watching old french movie while you smoke - I want to open a cinema like this someday).
Now every pub have a small crowd of people outside smoking, good way to meet new girls.
posted by darkripper at 1:40 PM on February 3, 2007


So, I remember being in the waiting room at the hospital with my mum and there were ashtrays there. (I turn 40 this year). Travelling on buses as a kid, I used to get travelsick which was always exacerbated by smoke.

I was a smoker, and I found the bans in Australia inconvenient. As an ex-smoker, I love them, not because I miss smoking and hate being tempted but because now I'm not indulging every 20 minutes, when I accidentally catch a whiff of smoke, I feel nauseous, and if I'm stuck (waiting for a cab, near a smoker), my asthma starts up and it's even more uncomfortable.

As for people in the olden days smelling, interestingly enough the cast and crew of Colonial House, Australia didn't find it an issue and they thought they would. Despite it being the Australian summer and no deodorants allowed, there was no noticeable smell (confirmed by the crew). Some people suggest it's because their food was much healthier. Who knows?

So, if you are a non-smoker and you can't get a job anywhere else, do you reckon it's fair to have to work in an environment where the levels of toxic gases are such it's a health hazard? Doesn't seem reasonable to me. I have no objections to smokers smoking in their own homes, but they don't need to be sharing their poison with everyone.
posted by b33j at 2:00 PM on February 3, 2007


Banning smoking in enclosed public places is a no-brainer, but private business owners should be able to decide for themselves. That way customers and employees have a choice (Although smoking-friendly private businesses would be off-limits to children).

But all the same, bravo, France.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:07 PM on February 3, 2007


No one is forced to work in or patronize a restaurant, bar, or airline that allows smoking.

But I'm forced to either quit my job or not be able to fulfil the social obligations attached to it, unless I have a lot of social leverage. Which I never did. Also, re airlines, Greyhound, trains -- no one is forced to travel, right? How ridiculous. Basically when smoking was everywhere (I quit or refused many jobs because of it) that would mean I had to choose between travelling or taking in poison gases and particles that made me feel very unwell.

I still see people smoking in cars with their kids, just as was done to me, against my protestations.
posted by Listener at 2:58 PM on February 3, 2007


Tobacco is a dirty weed,
I like it.
It satisfies no normal need,
I like it.
It makes you thin, it makes you lean,
It takes the hair right off your bean.
It's the worst darn stuff I've ever seen.
I like it.

- Graham Lee Hemminger (1895-1950)

That said, I feel weird smoking indoors and refrain when there are non-smokers around or if there's food being served/consumed in the area. Maybe it's just me but I like the smell of cigar smoke (and pipe tobacco) better than cigarettes.
posted by porpoise at 3:38 PM on February 3, 2007


As a severe asthmatic, I deeply resent all the folks who claim that non-smokers insist on smoke-free air is because its "disruptive" and merely inconvenient. Its not disruptive to me, its potentially fatal, and I have had near fatal asthma attacks because of nearby smokers in my air space.

Its a vital health issue and smokers need to get beyond the idea that their smoke is just an inconvenient smell and that non-smokers are petty for complaining. I would rather people came to work (or rode transit or went to bars and restaurants or traveled on planes or were in other public spaces) smeared head-to-toe in shit than smoke in my airspace. Shit-smell might make me barf, but it won't kill me.

Fuck you to all the smokers and their libertarian lapdogs. I don't care if you live or die. Smoke and die with my blessing. I don't want to die and I hope to God every country on this planet bans smoking.
posted by zia at 4:04 PM on February 3, 2007


BC used to allow smoking most anywhere. It has gradually eliminated smoking in most public spaces.

There was the standard squawking and unhappiness with what was going on. The world would come to an end. Businesses would fail, etcetera.

As far as I know, said doom and gloom largely failed to occur. Further, BC has now relaxed the laws a little... and most pubs and restaurants now choose to be completely non-smoking.

The asshats who shouted and screamed about the unfairness of preventing them from stinking up the indoor environment seem to have disappeared. Most of them seem to have come to terms with the plain fact that the majority of people strongly dislike the smell of cigarette smoke, and that they must therefore practice their vice away from the rest of us.

It's kind of like farting and spitting, two other vulgar habits that because they're not part of our public culture are not actively promoted by those who would like to engage in them.

Changing the law is the first step to changing the culture; once the culture has changed, the law becomes unnecessary because no one's so stupid as to think "hey, let's let people stink this joint up with the eye-reddening, clothes-saturating, stomach-sickening stench of cigarettes!"
posted by five fresh fish at 4:15 PM on February 3, 2007


Smoking in restaurants has been outlawed in my state (Victoria, Australia) for many years. In the next few months, smoking in pubs and bars will also be banned.

Interestingly, a different department of the government have deemed that hotels must supply an area where their patrons can smoke if they wish to, so as not to discriminate against smokers.

One of the oldest and most well known pubs in the city is now looking at closing, as they have no room to build a rooftop or open air smoking area. And an application to build a new club has been denied because there was no plan for a smoker's area.

There are also reports that the tobacco companies are secretly paying pub operators to ensure that smokers are catered to.

Bureaucracy at it's finest.
posted by Diag at 6:01 PM on February 3, 2007


zia: let us meet in mortal combat. I want to kill you and your kind.
posted by Meatbomb at 8:24 PM on February 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


Its not disruptive to me, its potentially fatal, and I have had near fatal asthma attacks because of nearby smokers in my air space.

I wouldn't imagine you have to worry about it much, since most reclusive, road-less, car-less swaths of earth don't have bars, anyway. Or are you one of those hypocritical car-owning You're Killllling Me asthmatics?

Pity those who are deathly-allergic to bee stings don't have a stronger anti-honey lobby. Or perhaps they're just smart enough not to frequent bee farms.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:07 PM on February 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Me: Blows langourous smoke rings in Zia's general direction.

Is he dead yet?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:44 AM on February 4, 2007


"I'm moving to the Netherlands. The brown cafe's, so called because of the nicotine stains on the walls and ceiling, are a national treasure."

Curious you should mention Holland. I'm in Amsterdam every other week for a few days on biz and the bank I work for has installed "smokers rooms" on every floor. Resembling oversized telephone booths, large enough for maybe four or five people, these glass enclosed rooms are fitted with sealed doors, and fans that seem to do a rather good job of filtering the air. They apparently have slightly negative pressure inside as I've stood right next to one when a colleague exited, and although there were several dedicated puffers inside I didn't catch a whiff.

Perhaps best of all for the smokers, they don't have to go outside to get their fix. Also, the machines are conveniently located in the same common area as the coffee machine (the two go hand in hand after all), and we don't have to wade through a throng of smokers clustered at the buildings entrance.

I haven't been in one of the brown cafes in years, but I thought the smokers booths were a win/win solution overall.
posted by Mutant at 2:59 AM on February 4, 2007 [1 favorite]


Public smoking is a beautiful example of a market failure: the market doesn't provide for smoke free zones because a) the smoke doesn't respect "no smoking" zones and b) market pressures prevent places from thinking they can go smoke free. Case in point: ever see a smoke-free bar in an area without a smoking ban?

I do have a problem thinking of public smoking as a 'libertarian' issue. The fist is in my face at that point, as it were.

also, there are some remarkably assholish responses to zia.
posted by norm at 6:13 AM on February 4, 2007


We're being assholes to zia because he's basically saying that us smokers would probably kill him without a second thought, if we got a chance; I would assume by breathing smoke directly into his lungs.

Honestly, zia, what issue do you have with smoking rooms which are hermetically sealed and ventilated, then? What effect would people smoking in a glass room have on your oh-so-delicate breathing apparatus?

Also, you want every country to ban smoking outright... I am assuming for the health of the population? Gee, how about banning fried foods? Banning use of automobiles? Heart disease and auto accidents top 1st-hand cigarette-related deaths by a long shot, and god knows by how much they top 2nd-hand smoke deaths.

Just... please, get your opinions a little more morally consistent. You just seem to have an irrational vendetta against people smoking. We don't want to smoke in your office, right next to you, showering you with deadly fumes. We simply want to enjoy our preferred dangerous and personally damaging vice in the company of others who share it, without pissing anybody off.
posted by tehloki at 7:39 AM on February 4, 2007


Blows langourous smoke rings in Zia's general direction.

*hands cake to a diabetic*

Hey, that did feel classy!

Case in point: ever see a smoke-free bar in an area without a smoking ban?

Yes. Several. ?
posted by cortex at 8:00 AM on February 4, 2007


MetaFilter: Just... please, get your opinions a little more morally consistent.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 8:06 AM on February 4, 2007


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