Thursday, February 25, 2010


On July 1 2009, the European smoking ban was implemented in Greece, the country with the highest smoking rates in the EU. The much-publicised awareness campaign was followed by smoking restrictions in public spaces including bars, cafes and taxis. While anti-smokers were delighted, smokers briefly wondered how, and if, life would change. "Nah, this is Greece," they would say on second thought.

"They may bar us from restaurants! They may force us out onto the cold, cold streets! But they will never rob us of our joys and passions," said freedom-loving Greeks.

Six months onwards people have got back inside their offices and it's business as usual as the law is being flagrantly flouted! Rather than restrict smoking, bar and cafĂ© owners have turned their venues into full-smoking areas. Taxi drivers have loosely interpreted the law to mean that there is no smoking only if the passenger asks for it.

"Why do Greeks smoke so much?" I wonder as I light up yet another Silk Cut Slim. And as I gaze into the dancing smoke I meditate. The smoke rises to meet the smoke of days gone by...beautiful cigarette moments with me starring as the Galoise gal or the Marlboro man depending on the circumstances...poetry and cigarettes, tears and cigarettes, nature and cigarettes, work-work-work and cigarettes, sex and cigarettes...indeed there's nothing like it.

Reminds me of that Florence King quote: "Now the only thing I miss about sex is the cigarette afterward. Next to the first one in the morning, it's the best one of all. It tasted so good that even if I had been frigid I would have pretended otherwise just to be able to smoke it."

PS The two friends I lost to cancer were staunch non-smokers and health freaks! Go figure!

1 comment:

Robin said...

The thing about cigarettes is this: people who don't cigarettes will never understand the attraction. In fact, it actually bothers them. I don't smoke, am allergic to it, and it irritates, my eyes, clogs my throat and sinuses, smells bad, etc.

The people who smoke can't understand why everyone doesn't smoke. They love it. The smell, the taste, the way it feels in their hand. I have friends who smoke and I know that they are completely enamored. It is a love affair, to be sure.

How do we get along? We respect each other's loves and lack thereof. Somehow it all works out. And we didn't need the government to regulate it for us.