A Smoke-free Europe?
One area where Europe has enthusiastically followed America's lead is in the fight against smoking. Who would have imagined that pubs in Ireland would be entirely smoke-free? As of last year, they are!
Americans are famous in Europe for wanting smoke-free spaces. Ever since our company began leading tours in the late 1970s, our rule has been "no smoking unless you're on fire." As far as we can tell, this has fit our traveling clientele perfectly and, from a marketing point of view, has been only a plus.
Of course, we couldn't stop Europeans from smoking like chimneys and those traveling through Europe have long had no choice but to make the best of smoky environs if they wanted to experience the characteristic rough edges.
That is changing rapidly. In fact Europe's offensive against tobacco smokers is faster-moving and more aggressive than it ever was in America. Airplanes, airports, entire train stations, and many small hotels are now smoke-free. England leads the charge. (Recently, every B&B in Rick Steves' Best of Britain guidebook was smoke free.) And now the movement has clearly crossed the English Channel.
|The Berlin subway has huge no-smoking signs painted on hallway floors.|
|The reconstruction of Europe's first steam train is clearly labeled "No Smoking."|
|Cigarette packages throughout the European Union come with big grim warnings in bold black and white: "Smoking may reduce the blood flow and causes impotence. "Smoking Kills."|
|Smokers outside of the EU — like this Croatian — are still happy to light up without the scary warnings.|
|And Rick Steves has given up smoking breadsticks entirely. He claims that Italy gives him a natural high without the help of those Italian "grissini."|