Sunday, January 20, 2008

National Stereotypes: Not Always Useful

When a smoking ban was introduced in Ireland in 2004 the country, which takes a certain pride in its rebel heritage and disdain for authority, acquiesced meekly like a flock of lambs. Thinking that if you can tell the Irish how to conduct themselves, you can get people to do anything, the authorities in Europe followed suit. Well it's easier than tackling a far graver risk to public health.

But when the authorities tried getting the law-abiding, orderly and humourless Germans to do the same the result was – revolt, defiance, chaos and piss-taking.

Some pub and club owners have even tried to turn their establishments into member-owning smoking clubs, like Hamburg's Association for the Preservation of Smoke Culture and Advancement of Tolerance.

The owner of the Mouse Trap pub in Schleswig-Holstein has lodged an application to turn it into a church. 'I consider the burning of tobacco to be a religious practice,' said Dirk Bruckner, who already boasts around 400 followers.

While smoking in bars is technically already illegal, fines of between €5 and €100 for those who continue to light up will not be implemented until July, when orderlies will be sent to inspect establishments. As a result, many Berliners in particular - considered to have one of the most pronounced counter-cultures of any city in Europe and therefore used to putting up a fight - are holding out until then. So where you can smoke and where you cannot could hardly be more confusing.

Chaos and revolt German style. They should do it more often.

PS: It's not mentioned in the article quoted above, but a special mention should go the man who put a "smoking point", three cushioned holes – one for the head, two for the arms – for the use of smokers in his bar. Picture of it here.

PPS: I should also mention the city of Philadelphia. I was there just over a year ago and it had introduced an anti-smoking law that was so vague everyone just ignored it and carried on as they pleased.

Rauchen sie gut.

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Blogger Blake said...

The mythical Irish rebel? As implied in the above yarn, we are in fact distressingly biddable and passive. Tempted to add a quavering "...if that's okay by you." Oh, I just have.

1:11 am  

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