Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Lunch al fresco (if you can)

According to a study commissioned by the Federal Health Office and reported by swissinfo.ch, 27% of the Swiss population aged 14-65 were smokers in 2009. But among 20 to 24-year-olds, 39% percent smoke. Cough.

Despite these numbers, take a walk along Lake Zurich, and it can feel like everyone smokes. I can hardly walk two steps without choking. It’s really too bad, since Switzerland is so clean otherwise. But it’s hard to enjoy the fresh air and nice weather when it’s clouded by cigarette smoke.

Lately, like half the residents of Zurich, I’ve taken to eating my lunch by the lake. This is quite challenging for a non-smoker, but last Friday, I managed a milestone: I sat on a bench by the lake along with three other Swiss-German speakers, and no one lit up for the entire 45 minutes. I could hardly believe my luck.

But normally, I sit down, take two bites of my food, and someone starts smoking. So I play a strange game of musical benches, which never really ends well. However, I have done some completely unscientific research that I would like to share to help you choose your next outdoor dining bench:

  1. Sit next to people who are eating. Most people here won’t light up in the middle of their lunch, only yours. So choose people who are just sitting down to eat, not those who are finishing.
  2. Don’t sit by people who look like they are 20-24. Your odds of breathing smoke will be almost 40% instead of 30%.
  3. Do not sit by people eating McDonalds. Not only does their lunch stink, their cigarettes will too. These people seem almost 100% more likely to smoke than those eating something from Tibits.
  4. Analyze the wind (if there is any) and plan your bench strategy accordingly. If possible, sit on the edge of the bench closest to the direction the wind is coming from.
  5. Find a secluded rock by the lake.

Anyone else have issues with smoke or strategies for avoiding it and still being able to enjoy lunch al fresco?

6 comments:

bakinginstilettos said...

So now you have me curious, what do all those smokers do with their ... errr... butts? Are they true to Swiss form and find a proper bin to dispose of them, or do they leave them on the ground?

Chantal said...

Unfortunately, most leave them on the ground. It seems to be the only socially acceptable thing to litter with.

gigihawaii said...

I, too, hate tobacco smoke! It always makes me nauseous. Thank God, Hawaii enacted laws forbidding smoking inside public buildings such as restaurants, offices, stores, etc.

Eating outside can be a challenge, though!

Diana said...

Great post Chantal! You inspired me...
http://lifeintheswissalps.blogspot.com/2011/04/smoking-outside-problem-for-some.html

Chantal said...

Glad to hear I'm not alone!

Kathy said...

I always get a giggle from seeing smokers at Tibits. A little healthful vegetarian, a little smoke. It's all about balance.

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