Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Smoke Free

568 words

Germany is becoming cleaner and cleaner. Or more American, if you wish. Finally the non-smoking hysteria of our transatlantic friends made it over here and slowly the various states are starting to have non-smoking laws which require pubs and restaurants to be first and foremost non-smoking establishments and only allowing smoking in separated areas. At first it looked like that wouldn’t work because some dickheads like the Ministerpräsident (governor?) in our state wanted to introduce a less rigid law which would let the restaurant owner decide whether his establishment is smoking or non-smoking (i.e. leaving things as they have always been), but somehow they sorted him out and new non-smoking laws have been in effect for a month now in our state.

As a consequence you see tables outside most bars and restaurants now where the smokers hang out. Being a bit ad hoc this looks rather trashy and inconvenient in most cases. But as we know our smokers, they’ll just put up with it and enjoy that anyway. As restaurants – and even more so, pubs – in Germany tend to be smaller than in the U.S., say, and the buildings they are in may very well be old it is said to be a real problem for the owners to even establish a smoking section or even get proper ventilation installed, particularly as buildings typically don’t have air conditioning around here (and that’s just the technical aspect, it’s also said to be quite expensive).

While some people are bitching – and others are rejoicing – now, things will probably work out in the long run and we will easily get used to our new, smoke-free, environments. Let’s see how much comments there will be in the next weeks and how well the fact that these laws are done on a per-state basis will work out. Apparently they have things like special exceptions of the law for tents, for example, in Bavaria so people can still smoke while getting wasted at Oktoberfest.

Another side-effect is that, starting today, all federal buildings and all public transport is smoke free as well. Which, in the latter case, I personally welcome. Smoking coaches in the train are among the grossest things I can imagine. Their walls have acquired that slightly darker-yellowish shade of grey and the smell is unbearable. Just the most hard-core chain smokers will actually sit there (because it obviously contaminates your clothes and everything as well) and all the other smokers will sit in non-smoking and just go there for a ciggie.

Actually this has been going on for years and over time the railway company reduced the number of smoking coaches because they realised nobody is booking seats there, hence concluding nobody wants them. Which in a way means the smokers themselves were responsible for getting fewer and fewer smoking coaches. But now that’s not a problem anymore and I wonder what smokers will do on a long train journey. Nicotine patches? A quickie while the train stops (which will be difficult because, sillily, even open air platforms just have a small dedicated smoking section now, which essentially gives you one really nasty bit of platform instead of average OK-ness)? Getting off, smoking and taking the next train?

Not that I really care. Just being curious… And let’s hope they actually refurbish the former smoking coaches rather than just putting a no-smoking sticker on the door.

September 1, 2007, 11:54

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