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The Cigarette

This week I found this interesting object on my table at the restaurant here in Mallorca (Spain) : an ashtray. I could not remember the last time I have seen one in the USA. Even my 5yo asked me why people were blowing clouds at the restaurant’s terrasse. Cute.


Let's dig a bit

Find a spot to smoke if you can

There is no federal smoking bans in the USA so it means each state or city can do whatever they want. Consequently it is hard for me to provide you with any good comprehensive status of the regulation but here are a few take aways from quick browsing :

  • overall it is forbidden to smoke in most of the places in america and I have not seen that many smokers anywhere : in public areas, parks, restaurants, hospital, airplane, train, offices, restaurant terrasse …

  • a few regulations precise how many feet from the banned area it is banned to smoke or even to place ashtray : eg. : in Santa Barbara County it is banned to smoke 30 ft away for any building or area where smoking is prohibited and even ashtrays are forbidden in those area.

  • some regulations are really detailed including which public bench you are allowed to smoke or not, or banning smoking inside multi-unit condos, trails, city areas, parking lots, farmer’s market…

As a non smoker who really do not like the smoke smell, I love it :)

Up to 15% gap between France and the USA

Yes. the USA, along with the UK, have been the first at bringing awareness about the danger of smoking in the 50’s and to introduce regulation, It contributed to lower the percentage of adult smokers from 40% to around 15% which is one of the best results in the world. In France, it is only in 1976 that real action started to be put in place : Simone Veil who was in charge of Health for the government at that time, achieved to introduce the first regulation to ban advertising activities for tobacco companies and ban smoking in some public places.

Currently smokers represent more than 25-33% of the french population over 12 with skyrocking alarming results on the 14-45 range and increasing women smoker population. While I am pretty chocked by the french results, I am still wondering how american achieve to smoke as it goes beyond the basic american rules of not waste time and honestly it is really difficult it is to find a place to smoke. How do they achieve this 15% of the population smoking ? Who does smoke ? Don't they have their cafe clope ?

A social demographic gaps for smokers - cafe clope and company

In France, we have something called the ‘cafe clope’. Just go around la Defense at 10am, after lunch or through the afternoon and you will see the concept : tons of lone wolves or little tribe enjoying the combo cigarette and expresso enjoying the fresh air while gossiping / networking or, if alone, thinking or social mediaing. Apparently, this is an addiction : a behavior addiction on top of the nicotine addiction. This 'cafe clope' is not only for the population of the famous business district, it goes through all social 'classes' : from factory to finance firms, the cafe clope is a democratic institution of the work life and this is apparently one of the most difficult aspect to stop while quitting smoking. with more than 30% of the working population smoking, this is totally accepted and fine in France.

I wondered if the 'cafe clope' existed in the US. From my american culture expertise source ‘Friends’ / Season 5 Episode 18 ‘The one where Rachel smokes’, it seemed that yes. But it was in 1999… and even though the pressure put on employee to become a smoker in order to be part of the game is highlighted, you can see through the entire show that smoking is portrayed as bad… I guess this is why there are less than 7% of graduated people who do smoke in the USA.

Yes 7% in the USA against more than 30% in France... Food for thoughts.

Who is the typical smoker in America then ? This is a men over 25, whatever ethnicity, with maximum a high school diploma, below poverty level, in the south or midwest, who are disabled and/or limited, likely belonging to the LGBT community and potentially under ‘serious psychological distress. Well, in France we do have a way more democratic profile.

So based on that

Hard to blame France for the cigarette results when I see how the USA feed their kid in public schools but taking some inspiration there does not hurt.

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