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Being culturally sensitive to cigarette smoking but still avoiding it!

Being culturally sensitive to cigarette smoking but still avoiding it!

Old May 8th, 2001, 09:02 AM
  #1  
Katherine
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Being culturally sensitive to cigarette smoking but still avoiding it!

Will be traveling to Paris this summer with my husband and 3 yo daughter. My husband and I both hate smoke and prefer not to be around it. As far as our child goes, we know how especially harmful it is to children and never allow her around it. How can we truly avoid it while on our trip. also how can we politely request someone to put out a cigarette who is standing next to us in a supposedly "no smoking" area? In the US where smoking is so looked down on, no one is offended when you ask them to put it out, but Europe is another story I know from traveling there in the past. Again, I want to be sensitive to the culture but not at the risk of my own family's health!
 
Old May 8th, 2001, 09:50 AM
  #2  
Susan
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I'm not a fan of smoking but found Paris to be a lot less smokey than people have said. The French generally smoke over coffee or a meal so eat at outdoor cafes and restaurants (outdoor dining is simply delightful anyway) and it shouldn't be much of a problem. There aren't many French restaurants with non-smoking sections.

Museums and the metro are non-smoking so those places shouldn't pose problems.

I would just do my best to avoid very smokey areas. Unless you speak excellent French, I wouldn't attempt asking anyone not to smoke.
 
Old May 8th, 2001, 10:03 AM
  #3  
Relax
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I'd recommend that you look at:
www.forces.org
www.guestchoice.com

Maybe you'll see things differently.

As for reactions from people, you'd really need an excellent french to ask someone to refrain from smoking... and a good reason as well, and something better than "this is a non-smoking area".

I have found that in general the attitude of Europeans towards smoking is a lot more relaxed than Americans. They simply don't care (or care a lot less)

And a little bit of trivia... in Europe, more people smoke more cigarettes than Americans, yet most Western European countries have a higher life expectancy than the US...and a simmilar rate of lung cancer incidence...

Wonder why...
 
Old May 8th, 2001, 10:40 AM
  #4  
Catherine
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I have two asthmatic teens, one of whom risks a trip to the emergency room if exposed to cigarette smoke (the other just wheezes) and cigarette smoke is a migraine trigger for me (means a full day of agony & vomiting in a darkened room plus a second day of shaky recuperation-- oops, there goes the vacation). Because of this, I am quite hesitant to visit Europe at all! We found Japan to be quite sufficiently restrictive about smoking for our needs, but I would like to hear more about other places in the world.
 
Old May 8th, 2001, 10:49 AM
  #5  
Relax
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Another bit of trivia:

Japan has one of the highest smoking rates in the world. More than 50% of male adults smoke almost a pack a day (on average). They have the highest life expectancy in the world.

Countries like Germany, the UK, Belgium, and Switzerland have rather stringent restrictions. Spain, France, Italy and Greece have hardly any restrictions at all.
 
Old May 8th, 2001, 10:49 AM
  #6  
LJ
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You have received good advice already on "appropriateness" of asking others to butt out, so I won't comment. I was taken aback about a year ago to find folks smoking openly on an airplane between Paris and Rome. Yes, it was non-smoking but attitudes to this are so different in Europe that some folks hung around the washrooms at the back of the plane for a quick smoke mid-flight. Another respondent asked aboutncountries that, like the US, are very PC when it comes to smoking...Canada is, esp. in British Columbia and Ontario.
 
Old May 8th, 2001, 11:07 AM
  #7  
Catherine
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LOLOL!! Thanks, LJ! I'm actually *from* Ontario, so I can attest to the fact that non-smoking regulations here are rather stringent. Within the last year the city of Hamilton, Ontario, actually passed a no-smoking-in-restaurant bylaw and we have actually been able to take our kids out to eat when visiting my daughter at university!
 
Old May 8th, 2001, 11:19 AM
  #8  
Al Godon
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Two points here. The smoking craze in Japan has not yet seen enough people die to overturn a biased set of public health statistics. Wait about 5 years and then take a look. Also, treatments for diseases affecting the cardio vascular and pulmonary systems are improving. Medical science can keep people alive, but the one thing that longevity figuers do not report is quality of life. I would like to see realistic figures on what percentage of Japanese men over the age of 50 have evidence or symptoms of coronary artery disease and emphysema.

The book Cheap Eats in Paris indicates restaurants with a non smoking area.
But finding an area that is actually segregated is another question.
One restaurant we found [Sept 2000]that had a separate area for non smokers was Bistro de la Gare on Boulevard Montparnasse near the intersection with Rue de Rennes.
Food was moderately priced.
 
Old May 8th, 2001, 11:26 AM
  #9  
Katherine
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This certaily was not meant to be a Troll post. To "relax" si that why my doctor and pediatrician so vehemently warn against cigarette smoking? It not only causes lung cancer but also sever respiratory problems and my doto even told me of a cas ewhere a child went deaf due to inflamation in the ears, nose, and throat due to smoke (Thankfully this was corretaable with surgery!) I would never just ask someone outside to quit smoking. I however recall from a previous trip to Paris that the "non smoking metro" among other things is not always adhered to. I was wandering how impolite it would be to simply point to the no smoking sign and sk in french whether the person had noticed the sign?

We are set on this Paris trip so in the alternative can anyone make recccomendations for non-smoking restaurants etc.?
 
Old May 8th, 2001, 11:26 AM
  #10  
Robin
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I can also attest that there is a lot less smoke in Paris now than there was a few years ago. However, if you truly want to avoid it, try to eat and relax outdoors (they'll still be smoking, but at least it's well-ventilated.)

Honestly, I don't think there is a polite, sensitive way to ask someone not to smoke. I carries an inherent criticism. How would you feel if someone asked you to take your child out of a restaurant if they (not you) felt she was too restless? This falls into the category of "when in Rome..."
 
Old May 8th, 2001, 11:42 AM
  #11  
John
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Katherine:
Afraid you'll be confronting cultural differences. Why not compromise and take a small hand held battery operated fan with you and use it when smoke gets too close to your daughter? Maybe the offender(s) will get the hint.
Paris really is lovely as it is.
John
 
Old May 8th, 2001, 11:44 AM
  #12  
BC
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I must agree with those who posted about Canada, if you want a nearly smoke free vacation, go to British Columbia. You get the London style pubs and tearooms in a smoke free environment, and it's great to be able to walk into any restaurant without wondering if the smoke will just make you turn around and exit again. They do allow smoking outside, so when the weather turns warm, the patios and outdoor dining belong exclusively to the smokers, and the open doors will allow the smoke to waft in.

B.C. is gorgeous, I'd recommend it to anyone. And now, please excuse the interruption and continue with your chat about smoky Paris!
 
Old May 8th, 2001, 11:52 AM
  #13  
Lexma90
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Not to make light of your concerns, but you might consider the life-time effects of exposure to smoking during a 2-week trip to France - they're not very high. I must say, my husband & I don't like smoking or smoke either, and haven't found it to be a problems on our trips to Europe.

I agree that it would be difficult to ask someone not to smoke, especially in a country where the culture is that you don't do that (regardless of the health risks). If you, your husband or daughter is having obvious respiratory difficulties in a given situation, you might be able to gesture to your choking/wheezing daughter, and say "s'il vous plait." Maybe.

Eating outside - a very easy thing to do in Paris -- is a good way to avoid potential concerns.
 
Old May 8th, 2001, 12:01 PM
  #14  
Relax
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Katherine:

I don't mean to be a troll either, or to divert this forum from its true purpose (which is traveling).

However, having lived in Spain for a couple of years, and traveled around Europe quite a bit, I have to say that I would rather have the smoke and the inherent freedom that it means than a 'nanny' state imposed 'clean' environment.

In Spain, for instance, "No Smoking" signs are merely a suggestion, hardly an enforceable law. If, say, you point out the "No Smoking" sign to a person who is smoking in the metro, at best you'll probably get laughed at.

Are they wrong? I don't know. I don't care. Thing is, pointing out the sign is something that *may* be considered rude, and obnoxious, or childlish and out of proportion.

I guess that "when in Rome..." is valid all over. The same Spaniard that could have laughed at the "no smoking" sign in the metro, would be frowned upon, yelled at, and possibly fined or even jailed for doing something simmilar in the US or Canada.

Who is right? I am not sure, but I do think that a little bit of tolerance is way more civilized than blowing things out of proportion in the name of a "long" life.

I suggested the websites (Forces and Guest Choice) so that maybe you'd consider not giving the issue so much importance, and just *Relax* and enjoy your trip.

Yet another bit of trivia:

According to a report published by the WHO in 1998, children that shared the same household with smokers were between 10%-35% LESS likely to develop lung cancer during their lifetimes.

Statistics can work both ways.

I don't smoke. I don't advocate smoking. I just believe that people should be left alone when making health choices.

Enjoy your trip.
 
Old May 8th, 2001, 12:27 PM
  #15  
Pulmonary
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We were in France last year -- some areas are definitely less of a problem than others, and if you are with a 3 year old daughter, you're unlikely to spend time in the bars and clubs where smoke is a big problem. Stay outdoors as much as possible (outdoor cafes, etc.). And does anyone know what EuroDisney's policy is? That's certainly one possibility for a family with small child.

"Relax" -- Katherine's problem is not over-anxiety nor lack of information. And mortality statistics do not cut both ways. The incidence of asthma is increasing -- world-wide -- at a rate much higher than would be explained simply by an increase in reporting or an increase in population. No, it can't be attributed solely to cigarette smoke, but the point is that there is no one culpirt -- the problem is the interaction of all the problems of air pollution, dietary changes, and increases in cigarette consumption everywhere but in the US. But asthmatic children in homes where parents smoke spend more time in the hospital than asthmatic children of nonsmokers.

Those of us who do not wish to partake of other people's cigarettes do not have the "choice" to be left alone in our "health choices." Even non-asthmatics have a lot of trouble with tobacco smoke; my wife gets serious migraines, and others have a range of allergic reactions or sensitivities.

It is absolutely fair, prudent, and advisable to try to plan how to navigate a new country with health issues in mind. If you were allergic to garlic and asking how to deal with eating in France, how would you feel about being told to "relax" and enjoy it or else just go somewhere else.

That said: Katherine, don't bother to approach a Parisian smoker regarding the smoke -- you'll probably be considered somewhat mad and certainly rude, and you're likely to be ignored in any case. It's fair to ask ahead of time about non-smoking areas (which are not usually well separated from smoking areas) and non-smoking rooms, however. If all else fails, there's always "the mask."
 
Old May 8th, 2001, 12:44 PM
  #16  
Relax
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Pulmonary:

This is always an issue that raises a lot of animosity from both sides.

As I said before, I don't want to turn this forum into something else, though I do want to address a couple of points you make. If you want to continue the debate, my REAL email address is above.

You mention the problems your wife has. My mother is allergic to tobacco smoke, so I know what you mean. However, where you and I disagree is on how to deal with that. I'd imagine that you sympathize with smoking restrictions. That's fine. IMHO, most restrictions are assaults on people's freedom, especially when they are based on junk science, like most of the restrictions on tobacco are.

I am not inclined to argue whether it is junk science or not. I have researched the issue enough to reach that conclusion. Most people base their arguments on what they see on CNN, where tobacco is demonized with a new thing everyday.

Many people are sensitive to different things. Like nuts, or garlic, or perfume, or whatever. Is the rest of the world supposed to accomodate each and every person's desires, sensitivities or problems?

To try to bring this back to cultural issues, and re your point on garlic, I KNOW that you can be in France for a month without eating garlic a single day. It is not that difficult. There's always choices. Should a restaurant provide a "non-garlic" section for garlic allergy sufferers?

I will not continue posting to this thread. It has gone too long already. Trying to harmonize the European attitude on tobacco with the American attitude is a daunting task, at best.

Katherine:

I am sure that you will have a great trip. In terms of tobacco smoke, Paris is nowhere as intense as Rome, or Athens, or Madrid. It is always avoidable.
 
Old May 8th, 2001, 12:59 PM
  #17  
Pulmonary
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"Relax" -- No point in debating you privately, your mind is made up based on values more than information (besides you aren't the only one who gets to rebut a rebuttal publicly). Your value system says individual freedom outweighs the common good. Mine says the opposite.

Cigarette smoking, in particular, is never confined to just the smoker's own life and premises. And it's an addiction that has cost society untold millions in medical care. This is not simply the right to say "Pulmonary is full of it and doesn't know what he's talking about" -- this is the "right" to impose something toxic on others.

At some point in your life, you will be on the "wrong" side of this issue, where something affects you in a way you don't like (building an airport near your home, discovering you have a disease for which the only effective drug is too expensive for a drug company to manufacture, having a neighbor with a dangerous dog), and suddenly you'll be clamoring for a "nanny" authority to protect you from those who believe you have any right to expect your health to be protected. Your tune will change, I guarantee, but thanks to all the "you're not the boss of me" thinkers, you'll be plumb out of luck.
 
Old May 8th, 2001, 03:10 PM
  #18  
Relax
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To all:

I wanted to keep this out of here, though I feel compelled to answer. Sorry about that. I'll not answer this with cultural sensitivity in mind, just a direct rebuttal to the post above.

To Pulmonary:
How would you know how I made up my mind? You have seen maybe 20 lines of text and now you presume to know how I came to the conclusions I posted?

First of all, I am sorry that you kept this here. I think that it is rude to post something about smoking and liberties in a forum that is dedicated to travelling. For someone that preaches common good, this is quite an example of exactly the opposite.

Secondly, you mention that smoking is something that costs "untold millions in medical care". Do you have an idea of how much money governments make from tobacco taxes? Even from DIRECT tobacco taxes? It outweighs by far any of the "untold" millions you mention.

You also mention something about "the right to impose something toxic on others". I am sure that you are referring to SHS or ETS or whatever you want to call it. A couple of facts:

1. The EPA published a report in 1993 that determined that SHS is a class "A" carcinogen that claims the lives of 3,000 americans.

2. The report was overturned in 1998 by Judge Osteen. The ruling said that the EPA cherry picked the studies choosing only those who got to the conclusion that SHS is dangerous (what the EPA wanted). In doing so, they completely IGNORED 50% of the studies available. The risk ratio they got was too low anyway. (BTW, the risk ratio means how much more likely is it to acquire a disease when exposed to certain conditions. I.e. if you would normally expect 1 case in 100,000 and a substance / behavior has a risk ratio (rr) of 1.19 that means you would find 1.19 cases per 100,000. Risk ratios are expressed in intervals, to determine the probability of risk. In general terms, a risk ratio of less than 2, or that includes 1 in the interval is negligible, or can be caused by overlooked reasons)

So, instead of declaring that they had failed to reach the conclusion they wanted, they simply lowered the confidence interval. What did they have in the end? A risk ratio that didn't satisfy even the easiest of requirements.

Ooops, I forgot another one. The WHO published a study during 1998, where after interviewing and analysing countless persons (with and without lung cancer) in several countries over seven years, they failed to find a link between SHS and lung cancer.

That's what smoking restrictions are based on. Flimsy arguments, selective perception, gross exaggeration and outright lying. Can it be obnoxious? YES. Then, it becomes a question of matters.

As for your last paragraph, well, you are also contradicting yourself. What is more important? An airport for millions or your house for you? Just asking...

And just to finish (and this time I promise I won't post on this thread anymore) a few little things about "nanny" states.

The Center of Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is advocating for a "Fat Tax" to increase taxes on food they deem unhealthy. This goes from twinkies to pasta.

MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) is lobbying to change the definition of "drunk". They want to move the BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) from 0.1 to 0.07 or lower. That would mean that if you drink 2 beers, you are not allowed to drive.

A person in Idaho threatened with eviction from his apartment when the neighboor below him complained that he smoked.


Is that the world you want?

*Relax* signing off...
 
Old May 8th, 2001, 03:49 PM
  #19  
Joel
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As opposed to giving you another political lecture, here are some ideas from one who has never smoked, dispises it, and has lived extensively in France.

First, stay OUT of the brasseries at prime time as it is IMPOSSIBLE to avoid moderate to dense smoke. Instead, for lunch pre-locate a brasserie on a very open corner with a good-sized outdoor seating area and sit upwind. (Sounds silly, but that solves the lunch problem.)

Second,for dinner, use the smaller restaurants that often also offer exterior seating, such as 5 or 6 quite decent restaurants across the street from the Gare de Lyon train station. I have used them many times. If you want to enjoy very fine dining, I recommend Le Recamier on rue Recamier near the Sevres-Babylone metro stop. They have exterior seating and they are Michelin rated.

Third, while I would NEVER suggest to a frenchman or woman to not smoke (assuming I want to go on living), you would not at all be out of place to explain your situation to the person who seats you. They would not be put out or annoyed, I believe, and if you are clear in your preference they will look after you and segregate you as well as possible and then seat others at a distance. The french are as soft on kids as any nationality, perhaps more so, so if you wanted to mention that your daughter has asthma, etc., it would help, understanding that if it is a crowded night all bets are off.

Fourth, at your hotel, explain early in your stay (to the concierge if they have one) that you'd like to know of the restaurants that have no-smoking areas, and other info that you'd like such as tours that are no-smoking, etc. Plan it out to accomodate your preferences, but if unplanned accept the inevitable smokers.

Trains have distinct non-smoking cars. I've travelled them many times and have found them to be completely reliable. If you decide to visit Tours or Chartre, etc. plan on the non-smoking car and book accordingly.

Have a fun vacation. A shame others are so insensitive that they have to ignore your legitimate question.
 
Old May 8th, 2001, 04:43 PM
  #20  
Nancy
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How amusing that you wish to avoid cigarette smoke but are determined to go to Paris. Have you considered that exhaust fumes spewing all that CO2 into the air are a far greater hazard to your health (at home and abroad) than second hand cigarette smoke??? Why would you want to demand that someone smoking near you extinguish their cigarette when you can just walk away? At least in Paris most drive tiny little cars that get 40 mpg, rather than those huge SUV's everybody drives here that get only 8 mpg. If you hate smoke and prefer not to be around it, select a destination accordingly. If you are determined to go where you know smoking is prevalent, don't grumble about it. Would you go to a nude beach just and complain that no one is wearing bathing suits?
 

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