Yuck! Smoking in Europe

August 03, 2010

smoking in Europe, Yuck!

I love Europe and I love Europeans, but one thing I just do not get is the endless ignorance about cigarette smoking. Even worse, how unaware they are about how bad second hand smoke is around kids. It is not uncommon to see tons of people smoking around babies and children.


This is just something one does not see much in areas that I lived at in California. Most smokers in California have become aware that they are harming others with their second hand smoke so most educated people would not think of doing it around children. I am really surprised that they do not do more to educate people about the harms of cigarette smoke in Europe.In Germany, there are still road signs advertising cigarettes.

People walk baby carriages while smoking, pick up their kids from school while smoking, bring kids in smokey bars and restaurants ( I know there are bans but many do not seem to pay attention to them) and there were always tons of nurses etc outside of the hospital in Austria that I was in, smoking away on breaks. It often makes me feel like I'm in a time warp as the dangers of cigarettes have long been proven.


One does adjust to it to some extent and we avoid it as much as we can, but I must  admit this is one area that Europe is far behind in ( or at least compared to California as perhaps there are some areas in North America that are just as bad).Tobacco kills one person every six seconds so it is beyond me why there is not more education for Europeans about this deadly habit. There seems to be a decrease than when I first visited Europe in the seventies, but it is still horrible here. Many smokers here do not believe smoking is harmful so part of the problem is education. I am amazed at how tolerated it is even amongst non-smokers.

What are your thoughts on European smoking? Why is  there  not more social pressure, education and social support to help more people quit this deadly habit?

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Hi! You guys are going to love it when you get to Australia. Total smoking ban in nearly all public places especially around children food and drink. And the number of people smoking is reducing rapidly.


I remember disliking both Europe (after living in San Diego for 15 years) as well as the southern states in the US for the amount of smoking and the public places smokers would do it. Many still breathe the fumes out of their lungs for 30 minutes or more after finishing their smoke outside, and then continue polluting. One of the biggest dangers to children apart from second hand smoke is seeing parents modelling smoking, teaching the habit even if they tell the kids it's bad. I just lost my sister at age 51 to lung cancer, she quit 8 years ago, but the damage was done, and watching her try to breathe with lungs filling with cancer was not a good death.


Europeans are not uneducated, it's simply a different culture and different mentality. Smoking is perceived as a social custom, a tradition that people don't want to give up. You go for a coffee with friends and what do you do? You smoke.
I'm a non-smoker and I agree that no one should smoke around children etc., but I think America is a little bit too paranoid about many things, including smoking.
Nowadays, most countries in Europe ban smoking in indoor public places, but you still see many people smoke outside, because the way they perceive it is very different from the American way. In America, smokers are perceived as sick people, just like drug addicts. In Europe, smoking is a social custom and a way to relax.

Julie Gilley

Thank you for taking a stand on such a controversial subject! I too have issues with all the public smoking in Europe. I develop serious breathing issues when exposed to too much cigarette smoke. As much as I try not to let that interfere with my love for travel in European countries, I did find myself cutting my last visit to Barcelona short solely because of the excessive smoking. I mention it in this post:

bob briggs

I used to smoke and realise how it has affected my health and can affect those around.

Since July 2007 it is illegal to smoke in a public place in the UK, pubs, guest houses and hotels?
I run a guest house for non smokers and put the phrase Exclusively Non Smokers in the title even though the law is there to stop public smoking?

The reason is the difference between what is Non Smoking and what is for Non Smokers.
Some accommodation providers have provision for smoking guests. Some even have specific rooms they have allocated for smokers [ which as part of the law you can ].Apparently some of the larger chain hotels have a complete floor just for smokers.

How many places have facilities for the NON Smoker?

Very few, and where there is a mix of smokers and non smokers occasionally clashes occur.

Smokers appear to be well catered for around the world but I would like to see more places for non smokers where the air is clean and nothing smells of cigarettes.


"Smoking is an ancient custom -it is well known that Ancient Greeks and other people from other ancient civilisations (Chinese are known for their opium smoking) had smoking in their modus vivendi (as well as alcohol)."

I don't know about the Chinese. But in Europe, smoking is NOT an ancient custom. When Columbus brought smoking back from the New World, it was unknown in Europe.

Ian and Wendy Sewell

You're so right! We're very spoiled here in California - it's easy to forget that the rest of the world hasn't necessarily caught up. It's definitely become a factor in our trip planning. It's one thing to expose yourself, but we feel differently now that we have two (very little) kids along, too. It's a shame to see so much smoking around kids, even in countries where people should know better. Whether or not car exhaust may be worse, it certainly isn't helping to expose them to cigarette smoke, too!


I'm a non smoking European myself. A huge reason for smoking among women is gaining weight. French and German ladies don't care about the consequences, just want to stay skinny.
And what freedom concerns: Everyone has the freedom and the right to die of lung cancer.


I'm from India where smoking is no longer "cool" among the millennials. I had successfully quit my smoking habit for more than 6 months UNTIL I decided to go on a backpacking trip to Europe for several months and this dirty thing has resurfaced and I'm unable to quit now.It was like a rude culture shock for me, people smoke everywhere in Europe. Inside bars (despite indoor smoking bans, many venues simply ignore the new rules), near the sidewalk, outside tram stations, just about everywhere.

Back in India, I hardly know of anyone born in the late 80s or early 90s who is a habitual smoker. As someone born in the early 80s, I'm the LAST GENERATION of smokers and I really hate this yucky habit.

Most Americans I met don't smoke as do the Canadians. The Europeans just don't "get it".


yes, its about FREEDOM. The freedom to breath fresh clean air and be actually sickened by this abuse of public space. There are smokers who know its harmful and leave public areas to smoke. I respect there courtesy and wish them the best in there struggle to quit if they are trying. Love Spain but the science is real. Smoking is selfish and it harms the innocent and vulnerable. There is nothing noble and free about it. (addiction)
There is no inherent right to smoke in my airspace.

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