To Smoke Or Not To Smoke? – Andie Katschthaler

Far be it for me to tell someone else what to do. But please, do not subject me to it. Of course I did the exact same thing when I was a smoker, and I am seriously sorry for imposing my own habits on countless non-smokers. I know better now.

I have literally been “smoked out” of bars, pubs, coffeehouses and clubs. As I don’t want to smell like a nicotine barbecue when I get home, I tend to stick to places that are either non-smoking or have very good air-conditioning. Let me tell you, there aren’t many of either of these. So iImagine my delight when the discussion about a non-smoking law for public places re-emerged. And imagine my horror when it all turned into a farce. Yes, back in my smoking days it would have been the death of me to not be able to smoke at the dinner table. Drinking beer or coffee without a cigarette or two – or four? No way! But to be brutally honest: If I’d had to, I would have managed to step outside for a quick cigarette. Yes, even in winter. And just like so many smokers in so many other countries do.

Unfortunately Austria remains Austria. Where the tobacco industry is still going strong the government has simply not had the guts to forbid smoking in public places, restaurants and bars We’re doing things half-heartedly, the “Austrian way” and we’re even proud of it. There is now a law saying that all bars/pubs/restaurants bigger than 80 square metres must declare a separate room (at least 50 percent of the location) non-smoking. However, this same law also says the really small locations can still decide whether to allow smoking (the famous Loos Bar for example will remain a haven for smokers). Those between 50 and 80 square metres can still argue their way out of it because of the financial strain it might put on them to put in place a separate non-smoking room. And I think most of them will. Mostly because they’re afraid to lose their smoking customers. Surely if everywhere was 100 % smoke-free no one would actually have to worry about that, would they?

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