Welcome to the latest edition of Dear Frau. It's kind of like Dear Abby, except with an international twist. If you have a question about life in Switzerland, be sure to contact the Frau and maybe your little Frage will be in the next Dear Frau column. And as always, the Frau does not have all the answers and welcomes your solutions to these questions in the comments section.
I lovvvvvvvvvvvvve Switzerland. It's beautiful, safe, and clean. But why is it that a person cannot walk down the streets of Bern or Zurich without having cigarette smoke sprayed in their face. I am constantly bombarded by the vile smoke while eating at outdoor cafes, walking down the street, and waiting for a train. What do you suggest I do or say the next time this occurs?
An American Who Lives in and Loves Switzerland
Dear An American Who Lives in and Loves Switzerland,
The Frau is also fed up with living in a cloud of smoke. Or is that fog?
Sometimes it’s hard to tell in Switzerland. The sky is always gray no matter what.
That’s how you tell.
Anyway, the Frau has had clothes ruined, had to change offices, and endured red eyes all so a bunch of Swiss people could voluntarily give themselves cancer.
Even though we Americans learned at a young age that the mere sight of a cigarette might kills us, the Swiss don’t care because despite their habits, they have the fourth longest life expectancy in the world.
Maybe you’ve seen some of them hiking the Alps in that not-so-fresh-anymore mountain air. One of them was once my father-in-law. Sorry. He wanted to be more Swiss.
Anyhow, let’s get to the point. Your question was what to do or say. The Frau doesn’t really know what to tell you because anyone that buys something that clearly says “it kills” on the package is probably beyond help. But here are some things the Frau and her friends have done for the cause, including the various Swiss responses:
Test One: Put up an ad campaign in her Zurich office showing images of non-smokers’ lungs vs. smokers’ lungs with labels matching appropriate employee names with the images.
Response from chain-smoking boss: Laugh. Cough. Laugh. Nice try, but that crap doesn’t work with me. Puff.
The Frau’s response: Fine, she wants a new office.
Test Two: A Swiss friend asked a man smoking a cigar at a soccer game in Basel to please put it out so the Frau could sing the American national anthem without choking.
Response from cigar smoker: Ok. Puff. Put out cigar under seat.
The Frau’s response: The most she’s ever cheered at a soccer game.
Test Three: Gave dirty look to man smoking in train car.
Response: He went out into the hallway and continued smoking there.
The Frau’s response: Bathroom break. The air smelled better there.
Other ways to protest when you get smoked on: Fart. Spit. Spray air freshener.
Fight back, non-smokers, fight back.
The good news is that it has now been many decades since science proved that smoking sucks, so now that an extremely long time has passed, some restaurants and bars in Switzerland are finally listening. Change is good, Switzerland. Really.
And look on the bright side. Those cigarette butts give the street sweeper a reason for being. He needs one, poor guy.
How do you respond to all this Swiss smoke?