French cafes and German pubs are notoriously smoke-filled. You can’t picture a corner bistro without a long, elegant woman lounging in a delicate chair, a cup of espresso at her elbow and a cigarette between her fingers. The same is true for the boisterous taverns of Germany. You think of them and automatically see rows of overflowing steins, frothy beer at every tap and ashtrays below every hand. Cigarettes are a part of each country’s public culture. At least, they were.
Yesterday rang in a new year that for the French and German will be largely nicotine free. Both nations have, as many of their European neighbors have already done, issued a smoking ban in public places. All French bars and cafes as well as all establishments without a separate, closed-off room in 11 of Germany’s 16 states will never see a lit match again. The patrons aren’t thrilled, as it appears to be an end to freedom and tradition, but the governments aren’t thinking about maintaining the smoky ambience of history. They’re thinking about health, and they’re thinking in the right way.
The 2007 smoking ban in Great Britain was preceded by the year’s largest number of quitters. Everyone was terrified that the public restriction would hit them hard, and so they stubbed out early, turning the attempt into their New Year’s resolution. It was a smart idea since studies have shown that January abstainers are more successful than quitters in any other month (which is probably why an estimated 1.2 million Englanders have started 2008 without their cigarette). Let’s hope England’s trend repeats itself in France and Germany.
And since Europe is going smoke-free this year, why don’t you join them? Visit smokefree.gov for tips and suggestions. Visit LuckyVitamin.com for a few products to ease the urge, and start the New Year right.