Smoking bans have inspired coffee house debates throughout the world. Earlier this month Argentina followed the lead of Uruguay, Spain, and Ukraine by banning smoking in public spaces smaller than 100 square meters. Similar proposals are currently underway in Kenya, Nepal, Germany, and France. But are the bans really effective?
That is the question that led Argentine blogger Juan Pablo Meneses to write about his trip to a local shopping mall after the ban was put into place. The post, originally written in Spanish, was translated by volunteer Andres Hardrada.
In the malls you can find anything. In the food court, for instance, I find a bar. I just bought a ticket to watch Miami Vice; so that's how I'll end my day: indoors among bullets. It's strange ordering a whiskey while waiting for a movie, and watching kids walk by your side with a Mcdonalds tray, and moms with triple burgers, and young couples eating sushi. After a day in the mall you're left with the feeling that you can spend the entire day in here, because there is so much to do. Except smoking, of course.
The problem with smoking, you see, is that you can`t do it anymore. Because of a strange free trade paradox, we have the freedom to die of anything … except nicotine. They can hang us with debt, we can clog our arteries with junk food, get shot in a mugging, but god forbid lighting a cigarette, That does harm.
Where are the smokers? there`s no union, or board, or protests to defend those of us who breath smoke out of our mouths? When in history did smokers become so obedient and disciplined?
“The cigarette prohibition will help me stop smoking. The government should have done this for us a long time ago,” I am told by a skinny man with a mustache that is having a drink at the food-court bar. And he means it. Not only that, but using the USA – where his oldest son lives – as an example, he said that if the prohibition can't stop his addiction and he gets sick, if he ruins his lungs and throat … he says he'll sue the state.
“Really?” I asked him before going to the movies.
“Sure, they gotta look after us. Isn't that their job?”
After an entire day in this mall, you think that everyone is right. You`re not in the mood to argue, you just join in. And so, when i'm in line to enter the theater, and a couple complains about the prohibition, I side with the girl in front of me who asks:
Will this prohibition have any real effect?
That question elicits over 100 comments, some of them longer than the original post. Andres and I have translated just a few.
It won`t, because there`s no way to watch over so many bars. The real issue here is why we expect the government to fix our lives. Even with smoking…
Once, in Rio de Janeiro`s airport, I saw a smoker's booth. Even though it's open you don`t smell a thing. Why not put one of those things in the shopping malls? They are very handy.
Personally I smoked from 18 to 30. I quit, because I fell for someone who did not (romanticism and taste). If a union is started, I`ll sign.
Former Kent-one smoker
Regarding your statement, “we have the freedom to die of anything, except nicotine” I think the difference, compared to “clogging our arteries with junk food”, is that you're not only killing yourself, but hurting others. In general, most smokers don`t care about what they make others breath. I believe that the measure is not to save the smoker's life, but to stop damaging the lives of those who don't.
Nine months ago I went to Buenos Aires. I'm from Guadalajara Mexico, where it's impossible to smoke in an airport. If you buy some drinks in a bar, then
it`s legal. I haven`t smoked for 2 months; I became aware that smoking makes you a nicotine addict, where were the governments that made drugs legal when they ought to have protected me from that?. I`m outraged with every politician in the world. Let's make a campaign to not forbid what was encouraged, but instead to
agitate so we don`t have to forbid. That is what's correct.
-Miguel Angel Costa
Those who smoke don't think of the damage they do to the rest, just like others have already commented. It's horrible to enter a restaurant where there are more tables with smokers than non-smokers and where the “sectors” are divided by just a few little plants.
In an elevator … a typical elevator in a downtown building, it's terrible! And the smoker doesn't have a clue why people are making gestures and giving looks. They don't think about it.
The ban is excellent and it must succeed. We non-smokers must value our own rights.
Cigarette smoke and farts are alike – they're only enjoyed by their owners. What would happen if everyone in a bar or cafe – while we're eating – started farting comfortably? Everyone would be scared away and horrified, for the noise and for the smell. Think about it, an innocent little fart on a bus causes a panic attack. The people open the windows! Everyone looks around and points at some fat kid with a vengeful look. But in a bar if someone lights a cigarette and let's out smoke with an equally bad, toxic smell … I don't see anyone running to open the doors and windows! …