RTL Today reader N. Austin wrote in to let off some steam about smoking in public spaces.
My apologies. I was was wrong. I was certain that the tram/bus shelters were off-limits to smoking and vaping. I sort of remember seeing tiny no smoking signs at some bus stops. This seems like such an obvious thing that we shouldn't need a law to remind people not to smoke/vape in areas where people are forced to congregate, right? Unfortunately, we do need a law to formalize this basic, common courtesy.
As an Expat, I have come to love Luxembourg for its charm, history, natural beauty, castles, vineyards, and for its diverse people. One thing I do not love is its lackadaisical attitude about smoking and vaping. The laws are permissive, so as a law-abiding citizen I am on board with the fact that smokers/vapers have rights. The question I ask today is if smokers also believe that non-smokers have some rights too? Here are several everyday occurrences where a little courtesy and compassion would go a long way towards improving the lives of the non-smoking majority in Luxembourg.
It's 7:30 in the morning. You step off of your tram/bus/train and head towards your office. You are stopped on the corner waiting for the light to turn green to continue your weary march. You are wrapped in your own world, dreaming about that first cup of coffee, thinking about the activities of the day, when suddenly you are engulfed in a noxious cloud. What? You step back to assess the situation and to identify the source.
Several people are similarly dodging for open air, others remain rooted in place seemingly in a daze. Finally you spot him or her, a smoker who has lit up while surrounded by 10 or so victims who are all trapped on that street corner. You move away to a strategic spot downwind from the smoker only to be overwhelmed by a vaper standing next to you. Smokers/vapers certainly have the right to smoke in that situation, but what about everyone else trapped on that corner? A considerate smoker/vaper could wait a minute until they walk a block or two and get away from the gaggle of other commuters who are only trying to get to work.
Lunchtime arrives, the weather is beautiful, and you head to a nearby restaurant with a group of co-workers. The restaurant has a beautiful outdoor terrace. You are enjoying the amiable companionship of your friends when your food arrives. In that split second between when your meal is delivered and you pick up your fork, a smoker at the next table lights up. One's sense of taste is primarily influenced by smell -- smoke overwhelms one's sense of smell and ruins a meal.
Ever notice that smokers/vapers don't smoke/vape while eating their own meals, but they have the uncanny ability to puff away the moment you try to enjoy yours? Yes, I know that smoking is legal on restaurant terraces, but wouldn't it be nice to enjoy a meal outdoors without your food being flavored with a dose of cigarettes or bubblegum? A considerate smoker/vaper could easily scan the surrounding tables and determine if their neighbor has just received their food.
As you may have guessed by now, no one is allowed to smoke in my apartment. It is my personal space and I choose for it to be a smoke-free zone. Despite this, I am regularly assaulted by smoke in my own home by thoughtless neighbors. They step out on their balcony to enjoy a smoke/vape. Maybe they even have the thought that they don't want to stink up the interior of their own homes. If you live in an apartment, where do you think that smoke goes? Sure, sometimes the prevailing winds are favorable and the smoke drifts away unnoticed, but I can assure you, most of the time it ends up in your neighbors' apartments. It is usually just an annoyance, but first thing in the morning, or at at the end of the day, when I am in my own bed trying to relax and sleep, it is absolutely infuriating to be subjected to smoke/vape.
Surely in one's own bedroom, one has the right to go to bed or awaken each day smoke-free. One wouldn't blast a radio on their balcony at that hour for obvious reasons, so why is smoking somehow less of an intrusion? A considerate smoker/vaper will find a place to enjoy their habit without subjecting their neighbors to its ill-effects -- especially late at night or first thing in the morning.