My smoking past Part 4: Everyday smoker’s life in Germany, Europe and above the clouds

  Ready-made cigarettes from red-white and other boxes, self-rolled ones, I was in the world of the smokers, and I enjoyed it, not really regretting. It was a nice change to have a cigarette here and there while you were sitting on your desk at home, while waiting for the bus or the train or escape the noisy interior of a pub or restaurant and get some fresh air for a while.

During the first years of my “career” which started in November 1987, it was easy. Smoking was allowed in most places, even in travel busses.  In the trains there were particular waggons reserved for smokers but soon I have found that passengers is these smoking departments looked more anti-social, downtrodden, blunt – was I really part of them?

During the first years it was even no big deal to smoke on your working place and in the hospital you did not have to go (or hobble) to the next smoker’s room. In pubs and restaurants hardly anybody thought of forbidding “the blue mist” (German figurative saying) to their guests.

It goes without saying that smoking is and was not allowed in churches or on graveyards – oops, in the context of cigarettes it is getting a bit macabre with the latter…. .   ( You won’t believe it, until the 17th century people were smoking tobacco at churches.)

During the 1990 the smoke and winds were changing. Awareness grew that the passive smoking is very hazardous and causes a high death-toll among non-smokers. In this regard, imagine the air of the working place of a stewardess, a waitress in a restaurant or pub, just to name a few.  

Also on long-distance-flights, it has become a habit that smoking was forbidden. For my then frequent flights to Indonesia I have mainly used their flag-carrier Garuda Indonesia. For a time they were known to be the only airline from Germany to that country where smoking was allowed in designated smokers seats (which I had always booked).

On an Air France-flight to Thailand in 1999 they had at least a corner we we smoker “have met”. Guess these days are gone, too.

What luck that there are not yet areas in European cities like in the (very beautiful) Malaysian city of Malacca: There is a region down town where smoking is completely forbidden in order to increase the air quality in town.  Wonder if this is the way to achieve it… 

In 1999 in Germany a decisive decision was announced by the High Court: Every employee has got the right to have a smoke-free working place. Ever since, smokers have to go to designated areas inside or outside to have their cigarette.

Restaurants can prepare a separated room in which smoking is allowed. For small pubs this law backfires as many smokers want to enjoy their cigarettes over their beer and not going in the fresh air just to have a cigarette. In the consequence, some pubs had to close after their smoking guests have become less.

Owing to a certain autonomy that the German Länder (=federated states) enjoy, ban on smoking in restaurants and other gastronomical entities was introduced in different times. So I remember how much I have enjoyed to have a cigarette right in the bar in the neighbouring Land Rhineland Palatine while here in Hessen we already have to go outside, no matter what the weather. In the meantime, the situation is the same everywhere.

In your hotel room, smoking may be forbidden, too. No more smoker rooms.  So when I stayed in a hotel in the french town of Cergy-Pontoise at the Hôtel Première Classe Cergy it was somewhat uncomfortable to have to get from the 13th floor down to the front door to have a cigarette here and there; also in the morning, right after getting up. What luck I was in Cergy-Pontoise in June and the weather was warm.

Same situation in Italy. No smoking in your hotel room or in gastronomy.  What a pleasure when I visited close-by Republic of San Marino, an indipendent enclave near Rimini. There you could smoke free from your heart in the restaurants, and I have really enjoyed it – killing time with a cigarette while waiting for my pizza!

But let us be honest:

1. I did enjoy going out and returning home with my clothing still fine and not smelling like tobacco.

2. When you cannot smoke whenever you want, you do reflect: Do I really need to have a cigarette now when I have to go out the restaurant first?

3. Does it really kill you when you cannot smoke in the train or the plane for hours on end?

At the same time, health started to decline: Permanently clearing my throat, coughing in the morning, jogging impossible due to the inability to run more than a cool 20 meters, a very bad condition and the bad consciousness for my body increased. Along came the question on how to survive when I grow old and pensions will not be enough for a nice life; if I need power to work some more even after retirement.

Gradually declining health and a fear of cancer, other smoking-related diseases and the increasing ban on smoking had it that very slowly a new awareness started to grow in me. And in late 2011, after exactly 24 years of smoking, my life was to change drastically.


Über oneofhere

Man, born 1967, living in Germany, who likes to interact with people from all over the world. My hobbies and interests are languages, travelling, photographing, writing and Eurobilltracking. More will follow, either here or / and in my blogs.
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