Residential Space A creative outlet during residency, turned ongoing virtual soap box

Posted on Thursday, February 16th, 2006 at 6:46 am. About News and Politics.

Smoking Ban in London

Evan and I were quite pleased to learn that the lower House of Parliament in London has voted to ban smoking in public places. It has to be ratified by the upper House for the law to take effect, but thus far it seems to be heading in that direction. You can read more about it here.

In 2002 the discussion arose as to whether my home at the time, Charleston, SC, should go smoke-free. I actually struggled with this issue – wasn’t it the choice of the business owner whether to allow smoking inside of a bar or a restaurant? What next – would the government step in and decide that alcohol could not be served?

And then…we traveled to Europe in April 2005. In Paris, I never saw so much as a non-smoking section in a restaurant, much less a smoke-free establishment. I felt ill constantly breathing the carcinogenic fumes and my clothes reeked of second-hand smoke for a solid week. It was absolutely disgusting, and there was no way to avoid it aside from buying fruit at a stand and eating all of my meals in my hotel room – and even then, it was a smoking hotel, and the people there before us had been smokers. It was even worse for Evan, who had his albuterol inhaler out more in that week than I had seen him use it throughout the years of our relationship. His constant wheezing and difficulty breathing was difficult to watch. So my tune changed quickly.

I have always enjoyed London and claimed that it is probably my favorite city. As far as I was concerned, there were two points that kept it from achieving near-perfection: A) it’s expensive, and B) it’s smoky (although it is not nearly as smoky as Paris). Kudos to London’s lower House of Parliament for working towards remedying the smoking problem.

The state of Washington voted to go smoke-free in November 2005, which took effect on December 10th. Despite my protests in 2002 based on “principle” I have to admit – it is wonderful to go to any restaurant or bar in Seattle, to enjoy my evening, and to leave, well, not reeking. It’s delightful. I’m already looking forward to my next trip to London (after 2007, which is when the ban would take effect).

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