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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, 05:49 PM
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Good grief, what a lot of hot buttons our Katherine has found! I particularly enjoy "Relax" lecturing people on using this as a political pulpit with 37-40 paragraphs of libertarian b.s. and statistical contortions worthy of Johnny Cochran.

Somewhere buried in all this was the good advice that Katherine asked for -- which was a list of places to go and places to avoid and the strong suggestion that trying to approach a smoker directly will be fruitless and maybe even cause trouble.

The problem with your original post, Katherine, is that you set up a conflict between your family's health and "sensitivity" to the culture. That's a no-win choice and the issue really isn't sensitivity, anyway. It's being realistic. If you try to tell people to put out their cigarettes, it's more than a matter of cultural expectations -- it's that it won't work, I'm sorry to say, and may even cause you some trouble.

So forget about cultural sensitivity and protect your family's health as you see fit and as is possible on the trip. It's true that your trip will not last a lifetime, so you may have to let down your guard for a while because you really won't have much choice. To be honest, you are probably at greater immediate risk from some tummy upset from changes of time, food, and water, or the inevitable air-traveller's cold/bronchitis. Yes, and the auto-exhaust is also probably a bigger problem than the tobacco smoke. A city is a city.
Old May 8th, 2001, 11:02 PM
sorry don't want to be
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Unless you have experienced the reactions I have had to smoke please don't say that smoking has no ill effects on non-smokers.

Very recently I took the train from Lucerne to Geneva, of course I chose to sit in the non-smoking section. But the only think separating the non-smoking section from the smokers was woefully inadequate plastic partition, every time the door was opened between the two sections volumes of smoke billowed in.

Note that every carriage was designed in this way so there was nowhere else for me to go. Within 1 hour of the 4-hour trip I was rather embarrassingly vomiting due to the smoke triggered migraine I developed.
Old May 9th, 2001, 12:15 AM
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smoking is as french as onions , baguettes, berets & the eiffel tower
take it or leave it
we don t complain about the US citizens carrying guns as this is part of your culture
Old May 9th, 2001, 02:37 AM
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Someone made a good point about asking what if a foreign tourist asked you to move or leave with your child in your hometown restaurant if she were acting up? Restless kids in restaurants at all hours are a common occurence in the U.S., but I never saw any children in Paris restaurants during the evening hours. It just isn't done. Smoking is the "restless child" in Europe. Do you dare approach a Parisian and ask them to modify their normal behavior for you, the tourist?? Accept it, try to avoid it when possible, don't make a big deal out of it. That's exactly what U.S. restaurant patrons have been forced to do when parents bring noisy, disruptive children at any and all hours.

Old May 9th, 2001, 05:58 AM
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To known as the vomiter: How do you know it was the smoke? The same thing happens to me when someone is wearing enough perfume to fill the entire space.
Old May 9th, 2001, 08:00 AM
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Relax - i'm with you 100%

Old May 9th, 2001, 08:08 AM
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Steph and Relax should get together with all the other anarchists and try to live in a community with no roads, no water or electricity, no phones, no police, no fire, no judges, and no schools but lots of guns and drugs and, evidently, ashtrays everywhere.
Old May 9th, 2001, 08:24 AM
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Just wanted to chime in and say this isn't a rudeness issue in europe but a cultural issue there. It is perfectly fine in the US and no one thinks you are being insensitive if you ask someone to stop smoking in a non smoking area. However, European culture is very different and cigarettes for some reason are acceptable over there unlike here. I think we have to be sensitive to that fat just like we do by not baring our shoulders sinside cathedrals in Italy, its just part of their culture. Again you don't have to embrae it but you do have to be sensitive to their views. Kathereine, there are non smoking hotels and areas of restaurants just check a good guide book. More and more plaes in paris are catering to american tourist tastes as it is their livelihood!
Old May 9th, 2001, 08:28 AM
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If the odd whiff of tobbacco smoke is going to actually harm your child then it will be dead from auto fumes/next door's barbecue by the time it's 5.
On the other hand asking people to stop smoking is a real risk to your health.
So unless your child has a strong allergic reaction, I'd forget about asking people.
If an American asked me to stop smoking I would say that I am working towards it, ask me again in a few years.
After all thats what America's reply was in Kyoto when asked by the world to stop
****ing in everyone's air.
(sorry I got carried away)
Old May 9th, 2001, 08:41 AM
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I totally agree that there is a huge differnce in attitudes towards cigarette smoking in the US vs. Europe. I would NEVER ask anyone in Paris to put out their cigarette regardless of whether we were in a non-smoking area or not. But, here in Chicago, I work downtown in a non-smoking building (I think all are). there are also reestrictions and signs posted that prohibit smoking outside within 30 feet of the buildind entrance. This is where benches are set up ti sit outside and they don't want smokers hanging around the area to ruin it for everyone else. I have very politely on several occasions mentioned to someone who lit up in this area the restrictions. Only one have I encountered a dirty look and no one has ever said anything to me. again I think smokers in the US are more used to being "ostracized" by their habit. When you are taking advantage of a host ountry's hospitality though, do not make comment.
Old May 9th, 2001, 09:45 AM
Hans H
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I'm pretty sure that you can tell a Frenchman not to lit up in a small non-smoking compartment of a train. On the other hand, trying to enforce a 30-feet non-smoking diameter in the open would result in puzzled looks, no matter what the signs state. (I must say, forbidding a smoker, who left the building to avoid annoying his co-workers, to smoke at convenient benches outside of the entrance, sounds like an intended humiliation to me. I'm in favour of non-smoking areas but this sounds like an intended offense.)
Old May 9th, 2001, 10:11 AM
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Not an intended offense in US, but a fat of life. I'm no statitician but I would guess only about 10% of th epopulace smokes on a regular basis and here majority rules! Also, a smoker doesn't leave the building to avoid annoying his o-workers with the smoke, all high rise office buildings ban smoking indoors period.
Old May 9th, 2001, 10:54 AM
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i'm not crazy about smoke either. I have 2 kids that we have traveled to europe with and my son is prone to respiratory problems so i'm always concerned. Sitting outside is definitely better than indoors, but also if you can get a table at the end of a row of tables so you are not surrounded on all 4 side. if indoors, we try to get a table nearest to the doorway for some air. if we walk in a place that seems too smokey, we'll just leave.
Old May 9th, 2001, 11:31 AM
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We have a couple of hotels to choose from. Does anyone know if these have non smoking rooms, I can't tell from the websites.

Hotel de Buci - Caron de Beaumarhais

If not anyone know nice hotels (4 star) with non smoking rooms? Should we try a chain like the Mariott for better luck?
Old May 9th, 2001, 12:24 PM
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Katherine, if you would like to visit Europe that's just like the United States, go visit Epcot Center. No smoking, no graffiti, no trash, no BSE. The cheese is made with pasteurized milk, the hotel rooms all have air-conditioning and room service, and everyone wears their sloppy jeans, baggy sweatshirts, baseball caps and looks like they just rolled out of bed. Everything is child-proofed and idiot-proofed. Feel free to chastise anyone who breaks the park's rules. You can visit pseudoParis without dealing with those unrepentant French who don't give a shit about American non-smoking pomposity.

When was the last time you told an SUV driver to turn in their battleship for a more fuel-efficient car, or reprimanded a neighbor for driving 1/4 mile to the corner store instead of walking? If you really gave two cents about your daughter's pulmonary health, you'd do those daily.
Old May 9th, 2001, 01:24 PM
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Just as you can't tell a New Yorker not to Jaywalk, you cannot tell a European not to smoke.

- If you tell someone not to smoke it will probably become a confrontation. The is no such thing as politely telling them not to smoke, thats like them telling you not to have a cip of coffee.

-People will smoke while they eat their meal.

-Health risks are non existant over a short trip.

-Eat outside.

- Have fun.

- Embrace culture.

-Paris is not California.

-A no smoking table means, no one can smoke at your table. They are permitted to smoke at the table next to you.

- This is all gross, but if you want a non smoking holiday, go to San Francisco.
Old May 9th, 2001, 01:25 PM
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remember its your american tobacco company that feed the habit....
Old May 9th, 2001, 02:11 PM
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If you're going to Europe expect to be around smokers. Even though I would be classfied as an anti smoker - for some reason, when in Europe, smokers don't bother me. When I was in Barcelona last October, a friend and I went out bar hopping and dancing. By the end of the night I was ready to pull my eyeballs out of their sockets because they burned so much. The next day my throat was raw. I made the choice to go out though. I can't imagine anyone - American or European - if in a small room - if asked politely not to smoke because of an allergic reaction would object. If anything - the American smoker would probably get all pissy about their individual rights, blah blah blah.
And cudos about wearing too much perfume.
I'm fortunate - I have no allergies or sensitivities.
If you are sensitive and you ask a smoker politiely not to smoke and they refuse - politely throw up in their lap. After all - if they refuse to contain their smoke why should you contain your bile. Fair is fair.
I doubt anyone would approve of someone living next door playing trance / heavy metal / hip hop at 3 am in the morning so why tolerate noxious fumes.
Old May 9th, 2001, 02:21 PM
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I don't even want to respond because it will bring this thread to the top and I think it should just die a natural death.

In this thread I see the signs of the new "Non-Smoking Ugly American". Those who want to travel and be a part of another country but want all the rules that their country adheres to be present in the country they happen to be traveling. As another poster said - go to Epcot and get your great "Parisian" experience. Culture is different everywhere and the reason we travel is to experience different cultures and people - the way they live - what makes them who they are. If the poster feels this is too dangerous to she and her children, please stay home. I agree with the comparison made by Robin. I raised my children and when in a restaurant I don't want to hear anyone else's whine and carry on and I'm sure the French don't want to either. It's their culture not to dine with their young children. I'm not saying your children are disruptive, but they are children nonetheless and you are asking another culture to accept them when you won't accept theirs.

I flew with my 15 year old from Venice to Rome a number of years ago. Sitting behind us was a child who was totally broken out in red bumps -diptheria, measles????? (my son is severly asmathic and allergic. Did I want her child near mine? No!!! But I had no choice. The right side of the plane was smoking and the left side non-smoking. Does that make sense? Not in the US but apparently in Italy.

YOu should also be aware that the medical care in France or Europe is not to the same level as in the US. Contact your doctor and get the names of doctors in Paris who were educated in the US and speak good English. Bring all your medications and backup medication for emergencies.

Otherwise, please stay home if you're so afraid of your trip not being "perfect".

Sorry to go on. I just feel if your children have serious allergies and you you really want to do this, you have to be pro-active. You know how it is there and if you want to go, then be prepared.
Old May 9th, 2001, 02:32 PM
Madame x
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I have never seen so much hostility to a poster ever! Katherine never said she wanted Paris to be just like the US; she was asking was there a polite way to ask someone not to do it and in the alternative it looks to me like shes looking for smoke free hotels and restaurants. Sounds like not too hard of a trravel question to answer, but it reality she has gotten a lot of harsh comments and few answers. the only self-righteous people I see here are the ones calling her an "ugly american". Get over it and give her some options for being around less smoke at least rather than berating her for being health conscious. Can't we just talk about the travel aspect of the question without "Pulmonary" and "Relax" getting into a personal battle of philosophies?

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