Monday, 15 September 2008

Fuming about no smoking.

What makes the stereotypical Frenchie? I'll let you think about this for a minute....

Things that come to mind: poodle, striped shirt, baguette under the arm, glass of wine, cigarette and "I don't give a crap about anyone else".

I'll admit, I was a (heavy) social smoker in my young life but it was all part of the too much alcohol/everyone's doing it thing of my youth. It only took two months of living with my heavy-smoking future-semi-non-smoking husband for me to never want to touch a cigarette again. While I was pregnant, the two things that made me want to hurl were fish and cigarettes.

Since the beginning of 2008, all public spaces including restaurants in France are non-smoking (ha ha like the train stations and airports have been for years but you wouldn't have guessed it, right?). Jérôme (who had secretly taken up smoking again) and I met this with great pleasure because it meant we could actually go out to public places with our toddler and not have to worry about her smelling like a bar when we got home. Now, aren't you imagining how lovely it is to have a glass of wine on a French sidewalk café? Well, it's not. It seems the pestilence that used to fill the inside of cafés has migrated outside.

So when I go to the one and only dog shit free park in Lille and parents are puffing away on the playground and dropping their mégots not only where my kid plays but where THEIR kids play, I am astonished and disgusted and want to take their mégots and shove them somewhere. But what's an American smokophobic to say? I come from the country of extremes...New York sidewalks are so clean* that you could eat off of them (one of the great pleasures of going home is not having to look down all the time but I digress).

I guess this is just that French laissez-faire, personal liberties, self-interest. But I'm French too. What's wrong with me?

*cleanliness is a relative concept

8 comments:

annette said...

Jeez, u are so right!:)! But frankly I found Lille quite clean, I know I am living here just few weeks so maybe I didn't see everything but comparing with Reims where I lived before is much, much cleaner.

Leah said...

Hey. Been reading your blog for a bit now. Just had to speak up because this is something that really gets my chevre, pardon my French. I've never been a smoker myself, but the majority of my friends in college were, so I've been around it a lot. And it sucked. However, as much as my friends smoked, they were also considerate of me and people they didn't even know. If I told them it was really bothering me(which it has the tendancy to do), they would go outside or move to the other corner of the room or whatever would help. And they didn't hang out right at the entrance of a building or underneath a bus stop because they were just too lazy to move their fesses elsewhere. I think that's what gets me, how inconsiderate I find it and how ignorant people here are. The majority of my French friends here are also smokers and even with me, they just don't seem to be aware of how thoughtless it is to smoke right in front of people and how bad it is for them. When I get my own place, you'd better believe they will be fuming outside! Rant over.

Sincerely yours,
also fuming about fume-ing!

wcs said...

Old habits die hard...

Elisabeth said...

Interestingly, I posted stuff about the recently imposed smoking-ban at my university this week. It has resulted in students' protests, and our union has announced that it will contest this unilateral decision on the part of the State System of Higher Education.

Your post reminded me of two things, both of which happened at Charles de Gaulle:

1. I have seen a number of times, at that airport, people smoking right under a "No Smoking" sign.

2. Once, returning to the U.S. with my daughter who was still at the tail end of a bad bout with the chicken pox, we were in line in front of a fat French pig who was smoking and blowing smoke in our faces and, right behing him was a "No Smoking" sign. I told him that this was a non-smoking space, and he sent me to hell, and we literally started yelling at each other. This was most unpleasant - the guy was absolutely convinced of his right to smoke. The French have this tendency to think that the law is fine, but that it seldom applies to them.

Papadesdeux said...

As an ex-smoker, I try to be as tolerant as I can with the poor suckers who haven't been able to quit. I totally understand how hard it is. As in agonizingly. But I am flabbergasted by the number of parents I see smoking around their young kids. Smart people. And I want to scream, have you read the statistics on second hand smoke.

But it isn't just France, I've seen the same in the US.

Sigh. But it does feel good to rant about it.

Reb said...

I was flabbergasted when a pregnant friend didn't stop smoking. Why? Her doctor told her it would be more of a stress on the baby to completely stop than to just cut down. Um, yeah. Welcome to France.

Elisabeth said...

When I was growing up, everyone in my family smoked, even my uncle, who was a medical doctor. My cousin Jean, who is a doctor too, was a smoker until a few years ago. Now, every has quit, except my oldest cousin, Luc. The poor sucker has to go have his "cloppe" in the garden whenever we have our yearly cousins' reunion!

NewWrldYankee said...

I think it is just engrained in the French to smoke. When my friend went there for a family stay back in high school - there were smoke breaks in the middle of class. Those for the students and teacher, alike! Not to mention, when Allison left the family, as a gift, they gave her an engraved cigarette lighter. "For WHEN she starts smoking."

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