We hate cigarette smoke and being in Seattle we weren’t around smokers. Anywhere you go in the states, smokers and non-smokers are separated enough so both parties are in good terms. Pretty much no smoking areas mean no smoking, and smokers are more considerate in the states. For the time that we’ve been in Paris, we’ve never inhaled so much cigarette smoke. Our healthy lifestyle has made us more sensitive to smoke, other smells and odors than ever. And my friends at Amgen, where I used to work, knew this well. Walking down the streets of Paris we’re constantly inhaling the smoke. One in every two people has a cigarette in their mouth and as we walk by smokers, not only do we inhale it, we get it on our hair, clothes and face. I can’t count how many times cigarette smoke has been blown into my face. We find our throats are parched from the smoke, and I hate how the smoke gets stuck in my nostrils, so even after I’m away from the blown smoke, I am still breathing it in. And just by being out the whole day, my eyes get so irritated from the smoke that I can’t even wear my contacts for as long as I did in the states.
Although there is no smoking allowed inside businesses, people still smoke right outside the door, sometimes inside with their hand hanging out the window. All this travels inside and although it’s better being inside, sometimes it’s hard to avoid it all. Smoking regulation here seems to be lacking. We simply can’t escape the smoke. Even when people are not supposed to be smoking inside their apartments they do it anyway. It gets into our place and we have to deal with it. I just love breathing in smoke as I’m working out. Oh, and also when I’m at the movie theater, when a guy decides to go outside and smoke, bringing the smell back with him. That’s nice too. And as I’m writing this now, we both have headaches from the smoke that’s getting underneath our door, through the vent, and through the window that we have open to circulate out the current smoke that’s already inside the apartment. This problem occurred at our last place too, and no one in the building seemed to care or be bothered by it. When we first moved into our current place, the leasing agent said there’s no smoking but informed us if we wanted to we could open the window and air it out and it wouldn’t be a problem. This is so different from the states. No smoking means no smoking. In a non-smoking building or apartment, if you’re caught smoking you are fined, and your non-smoking neighbors would throw a fit about it. Smokers in the states know better and are way more considerate we now realize. This is probably because of the more stringent law in place.
We don’t like sitting outside a café anymore for this reason, which is a bummer. The last time we did we suffered the consequence of having everyone around us chain smoke. Sitting in a cloud of smoke, we had a line of people to our right and left blasting us with waves of repetitive smoke. We are astounded by how much Parisians smoke, and we admit it’s the main reason why we want to leave. No exaggeration — we are getting secondhand smoke every day. The city’s air is stagnant with smoke and exhaust. There is no breath of fresh air. If it’s not cigarettes, it’s motor exhaust. We’re constantly accumulating poison into our bodies. The only true breath of fresh air we took in was when we walked along the Seine at five in the morning when no one was around. We were amazed by it. But at any other times during the day when it’s overcrowded with people the air will be filled with cigarette smoke and exhaust.
We’ve unintentionally become bitter towards smokers here. Because it seems to be a small percentage of non-smokers, and because it’s a social norm, we are the ones that have to deal with it. And we get it, we chose to come here, the city of cigarettes, so we are dealing with it; but we didn’t realize it was going to be this bad and that there’s no tolerance for non-smokers. We’ve never appreciated the smoking laws back at home as much as now.
I only speak of the truth through what we see and experience here, so no offense. This has been eating me up inside since day one and I had to vent!
Check out David Lebovitz’s post on smoking in Paris to see what I’m talking about. He has astounding pictures of how the streets here look, and he talks a little on statistics. You’ll be amazed by how many people smoke in Paris when the U.S. and other countries are on the decline. I’m not exaggerating!