Friday, August 28, 2009
SMOKING IN ITALY
One thing that surprised me a lot on my holiday in Italy was the fact that smoking rates there among all age groups don't seem to have changed since I lived there in the 80s. Obviously here in the UK with smoking bans everywhere, fewer and fewer people smoke. I don't think I know anyone of any age group who is a regular smoker in the UK. Obviously back in the 80s I could not have said that. The net effect is that I am never in contact with smoky atmospheres and therefore find them even less tolerable than I did when pubs were horrible smoky places. In the 80s people smoked at work, in pubs, at uni etc and half the people I knew back then were smokers. Back in the 80s I did perceive Italy to be more of a smoking country than here, but the same was true of France - most of my French friends and relatives smoked in the 80s, none of them do now. France, like the UK, has slowly become a non-smoking nation but Italy remains unchanged. How strange! Have taxes there not gone up? Is it because more of their life is spent outdoors? Or are smoking bans different? I noticed that often in Italy when you were in a restaurant, there would be an indoor section that was contained within a windowless gazebo which meant half the restaurant was also smoking. People happily sat next to babies blowing cigar smoke all over them or others while they finished their meal. Here I think smokers are very aware that non-smokers do not want to have someone sit beside them during an expensive meal blowing smoke all over them, in Italy smokers seem completely unaware and inconsiderate of those around them. I must say it was the one disappointing feature of our trip to an otherwise beautiful country. The beautiful smells of the herbs and lavender were marred by the omnipresent smokiness.