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Thank You for Not Smoking!

September 11, 2010

I hate the smell of cigarettes. Do you remember when they used to smoke on planes?  How did we ever survive?  Did anyone ever think the smoke would be contained in the rear of the airplane? As I travel around the world I am always amazed at what is or is not allowed in different countries.  Most poor countries like the Philippines or China have a lot of smokers.  Yet, in Ethiopia (one of the poorest countries in Africa), I did not see anyone smoke; my friends told me it is not a problem there.

Everyone knows smoking causes cancer.   Everyone knows that breathing in other people’s smoke is certainly not giving any health benefits either.  Yet, in wealthy countries like Japan and Singapore I see smokers all over the place; especially young people.  Singapore is known as a “fine” city with the rules outlawing chewing gum and punishments involving caning well known internationally.  Fines are severe, often in the thousands of dollars. Yet, in these highly sophisticated countries like the US, Europe, Singapore and Japan, where most people have university degrees, smoking still seems to be a serious problem.

I had never spent much time in North Carolina, but this summer I was certainly shocked to see tobacco plants growing everywhere. Of all the politically incorrect things to do. . . growing tobacco in the 21st century was beyond my comprehension.  To me it typifies the modern expression of the American Dream: “Make money at all costs and don’t worry about consequences”.  I assume that morally they think it is alright to grow something that gets people addicted and destroys their health.  After all, no one forced them to smoke it.

Well, you know no one gave me the choice to breathe it either! On a recent flight to Davao, Philippines I heard a surprising announcement.  Usually on Asian flights they warn you that drug traffickers will be sentenced to death, but in Davao they warn you that “smoking of cigarettes in any public or enclosed place is illegal.”  You may not smoke on the sidewalks; you may not smoke at the bus stops; you may never smoke in any restaurant or smell up a restroom either. You may not smoke in any room of a hotel and they do not provide a “smoking room” for the habitual smokers. You may never smoke within any proximity of another person. Yes, in Davao the only place you are free to smoke cigarettes is in your home. . . just don’t do it in your yard, because your neighbor might smell your smoke.

Finally the Philippines is at the cutting edge of something positive.  No smoking in Davao city. (Sure, I did see people cheat, but I think they send them to Singapore if they catch them!)  Thank you for not smoking!  I want a long healthy life.  Thank you Davao city for leading the way.  I hope to hear of more cities and whole countries around the world that ban smoking so I may live a long life.

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