Thursday, February 09, 2006

Smoking around the World

I was looking through some old pics of my travels, and came across this ridiculous looking smoking station. I've done my fair share of smoking, but it's certainly not a habit. Let's face it. It's disgusting, unhealthy, expensive, cancer causing and makes you smell. Still, I think it's funny how different countries around the world treat smoking.

In Toronto, you can't smoke anywhere. Not in restaurants. Not in bars. Not in clubs. I'm sure it will be illegal to smoke outside buildings soon, and there will be fines for dropping cigarette butts on the street. In fact, I'm sure smoking will be completely illegal one day...just like prohibition. It sure looks like its heading that way...they're just doing it gradually.

In Vienna, you can smoke everywhere. And everyone does. They even have ashtrays in the bathroom stalls. In fact, I think the only place you can't smoke is in the subway stations, which are mostly outdoors anyways. That giant concrete cigarette was at every entrance and every exit of every subway station in Vienna. It was always surrounded by smokers, and filled with cigarette butts. It would've been totally gross, if it weren't so absurd.

You can smoke pretty much everywhere in Japan too. There are vending machines (1 per every 20 people) all over Tokyo that sell smokes. You have to be over 20 years of age to purchase them. But how the hell do you moniter age restrictions on a vending machine? Though if anyone's gonna figure it out, I'm sure it'll be the Japanese.

Smoking was very technological in Japan. The smoke station in the lobby of my hotel in Fukuoka came complete with smoke blocking walls and an automatic fan that sucked the smoke away, downwards, and out into the atmosphere. It was always entertaining to see multiple sake soaked and red faced Japanese "salarymen" crammed into that smoke station, puffing away late at night. The hilarity of this sight was only eclipsed by signs that read:

Please refrain from smorking outside the smorking area.

But not by much.

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