Monday, September 29, 2008

The European Anti-Smoking Trend. Now in Paris and Zurich.

Paris is smoke-free now. Almost. There is no smoking allowed in cafes and restaurants and none allowed in our hotel either.

But now there are no sidewalks. All the smokers stand or sit outside at the cafes, so Paris just got ten times harder to stroll in. I guess there's no way for things to be perfect, and I'm not complaining, but boy, I don't know how many times I had to resort to stepping into the constantly wet and trashy gutters not to mention who knows how much gas is now wasted powering space heaters for all the additional cramped seating outside.

On the bright side, there was not as much dog poop around either, although the city still tends to smell like pee. But one thing at a time I guess.

There seemed to be less trash as well, although I noticed that very Parisian trend of people eating a snack and then throwing the wrappers on the ground is still alive and well.

Last night, while eating dinner in the Gare Est in Paris and waiting for our delayed (retard and not so vitesse after all) TGV train, there were announcements in French, English, and German that no smoking was allowed in the train station. This must have recently been decided, as there were signs on the tracks as well.

It was so wonderful. I could actually eat my sandwich without ingesting smoke at the same time. The air was so, so clear.

As anyone used to the main station in Zurich knows, this is something to relish.

And what do you know, I come home to find out that the Swiss voted to ban smoking in Zurich restaurants and cafes! I am overjoyed. I didn't think it would pass yesterday, so I even wrote that it didn't in my travel writing assignment that was due on Friday.

But the Swiss have surprised me for the better. Amazingly better. In Zurich, there were 168,780 total votes for the smoking ban, and 129,534 voted to stop the madness!

Now if they could just ban it in the main station life would be about perfect for the non-smoker.


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