Sunday, 10 April 2016

That Swiss Habit

If you take the train to Basel, then step off the train into the station, prepare to be welcomed by a dreadful smell. Not the cows, not chemical industry... cigarettes.



Lots, and I mean LOTS of people smoke in Basel. everywhere. train stations, outdoor swimming pools, children play areas, you name it, if it's "outside", it's allowed.

A couple of weeks ago, we were visiting the scenic Wasserfallen. I sat down on a bench with BK4 asleep in a sling, enjoying the sun and the view. Next to me was a pregnant young woman, smiling broadly at me. Sat opposite to us was a young lady, in her early twenties, who found nothing better than to light up.
I mean, seriously?

A quick google shows Switzerland is ranked 21 out of 185 countries for tobacco consumption. Unsurprisingly, it is the third consumer of tobacco in Western Europe after Greece and Spain, and well ahead of Germany, France and the UK.

Having lived 10 years in the UK, I have come to associate smoking with lower social classes, rightly or wrongly. The National Health Service offers many programmes to quit smoking aimed at young adults with low incomes, particularly in council estates.

Here in Switzerland, it seems smoking does not discriminate: young, old, women, men, low and high income.

I find the habit difficult to reconcile with the idea of a people who like the great outdoors, are keen hikers and cyclists. The good news though is it seems smoking uptake is declining.