People have said that I live in one of the most backwards cantons in Switzerland. People from Zurich especially like to point this out.
Now I've defended Canton Aargau before, but this time, I have to agree with my Zurich colleagues. At least when it comes to the new smoking law, Little Living In The Past Canton Aargau still can't admit what scientists have proven for years: smoking kills.
Even though Switzerland has passed a smoking ban, which began on May 1, like most things Swiss, the lawmakers in Bern let the cantons decide the actual rules--even when it comes to things like public health. And of course, I live in a canton that has the most liberal rules. This means that smoking is allowed in restaurants under 80 qm2--in other words, smoking is still allowed in almost all the of restaurants in my little town.
I guess I'm not going out after all.
Despite appearances otherwise, nothing in many parts of Switzerland has changed. Somehow, I'm not surprised. Whether it's women fighting for equal rights in a Swiss parade for over 20 years, or protecting workers from second-hand smoke when the facts prove it kills, change in Switzerland seems excruciating in its slowness.
According to Swissinfo, 21% of the population here is exposed to second-hand smoke for at least an hour each day. And what I still fail to understand are the numbers: Two-thirds of Swiss people don't smoke. So why are we catering to the minority, especially since we live in an über-democracy? I don't understand why restaurant owners are so worried about the smoking ban. If they only knew how many times I wanted to go out but didn't because I didn't want to come home and have to take a shower, maybe they'd realize just how many customers they will never see because of their "liberal" take on smoke.
I would also generalize that many non-smokers are probably better educated and have more money to spend in restaurants (especially since these people are saving hundreds each year by not buying cigarettes). But logic does not always seem to matter when it comes to laws in Switzerland.
To see if you live in a backwards part of Switzerland, check the smoking chart above, which I scanned from Blick am Abend. If you find yourself in the gray areas, yeah, you live in one of the most backwards places in Switzerland. So to see any real change when it comes to smoking, you'll probably have to keep holding your breath.
What do you think of the new smoking laws?