22 January 2007

When Will It Happen?

There is an aspect of moving here that I dreaded. Since arriving in Switzerland I am daily reminded of how much I hate this one part about our new life here. Our trip to Italy just reinforced it and a part of me resisted coming back to Zürich. Or wanted to bring a part of Italy back with us.

Which is sad, because in every other respect I love the fact that we are living in Switzerland and have very much enjoyed being here.

So what is it? What is that one thing that I wish could change?

The fact that smoking is allowed in most public buildings. And I sometimes feel as if I have a choice between staying at home or being exposed to excessive amounts of smoke.

One third of the Swiss population are smokers. And this minority smokes so enthusiastically that it is virtually impossible to be in any public place and not be surrounded by the unpleasantness of tobacco smoke.

As time goes on I find myself resenting those smokers more and more. My head aches, my eyes burn, my throat becomes dry and it is difficult for me to breathe. And I cannot help but wonder what their habit could be doing to my health in the longterm.

I have even more of a distaste for those smokers who refrain from smoking during their own meals, but light up as soon as they are done. Thus disturbing all of the other diners' meals.

Or the ones who hold the cigarette away from their companions so they are not bothered by the smoke. Thereby bringing the cigarette even closer to someone else without even a "by your leave!"

It was such a relief to be in Italy and know that any restaurant we selected would be blissfully free of smoke. Some of the restaurants did have smoking sections as the law allows it as long as the smoking room is completely enclosed and has a good ventilation system. Even so, on Saturday night there was a long line of diners who chose to wait for a table rather then sit in the nearly empty smoking section.

Thank God that Switzerland already doesn't allow the smoking on the public transit. Otherwise I truly wouldn't feel that I could go anwhere. But I want it to go further!

Throughout Europe smoking bans are steadily being passed. France, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the UK have all passed bans. Even within Switzerland, the Canton of Ticino passed the ban last year by an overwhelming majority.

In a recent survey of Swiss voters, a 60% majority supported a country-wide ban of smoking in all public places. Most of the political parties have also come out in support of a ban.

So what's the hold up?

C'mon, Switzerland! Take this issue out of committee and put it to a vote already!


Expat Traveler said...

I guess in BC and the states we are very spoiled with laws in favor of non-smokers. Just a year or so back trains had smoking sections. I used to plan in advance to get into the right train car.

Most everyone just accepts it if they don't smoke. But I'd agree, I think you should have that right to choose. Hopefully Switz will follow soon.

You don't realize how great you have it until it's gone!

Global Librarian said...

What frustrates me is that I have a history of moving away from a place either shortly before or shortly after they have passed a smoking ban.

With my luck, it will stay in committee until it is time for us to move elsewhere. Then it will be passed shortly thereafter.

I know I am ranting, but the smoke is making me crazy!