Good news for smokers and nonsmokers (sic) alike: two more smoking lounges have just been added…at Frankfurt Airport. These comfortable, modern facilities are ideal for getting away from the hustle and bustle and enjoying a relaxed smoke…Nonsmokers benefit too, because the lounges are equipped with powerful ventilation systems that prevent any smoke from escaping into the rest of the terminal building, including the directly adjacent areas.
How are non-smokers supposed to benefit from this development? At Frankfurt Airport smoking is already forbidden except in designated areas. So only smokers will benefit, if you can call it that, by having more places in which they are allowed to inhale tobacco fumes and thereby top up their nicotine levels.
It reminds me of days gone by when aircraft had smoking and non-smoking seats. I used to travel between Japan and England regularly and would remind my travel agent that I required a seat in the non-smoking section. Then I would add a further request: ‘And please put me as far away as possible from the smoking seats!’
This hardly made any difference though, because on aeroplanes the air is recirculated and on a smoking flight one would be forced to breathe dilute second-hand tobacco smoke. Thus I would arrive at my destination suffering from mild bronchitis and conjunctivitis. Once I wrote to the head of British Airways asking him to consider make their flights entirely non-smoking. I received the lame reply that their policy was to follow public trends, not set them.
Now, in Germany it seems smoking is regarded in some quarters as a normal human activity. But these new smoking lounges at Frankfurt Airport are good news neither for smokers nor non-smokers.
No matter how powerful the ventilation system in smoking lounges may be, it cannot prevent the stink of stale tobacco smoke being noticeable and unpleasant near the entrances. (See my earlier post on this matter: http://nicotinemonkey.com/?p=1124.)
And what about the poor cleaners who have to go into these places to remove cigarette litter and be exposed to second- and third-hand smoke? (Third-hand smoke means the poisons emitted from burning cigarettes which adhere to the surfaces of the seats, tables and walls.)
It’s not even good news for smokers because it merely assists them to continue to be in thrall of their addiction. And it’s nonsense to talk of ‘These comfortable modern facilities are ideal for getting away from the hustle and bustle and enjoying a relaxed smoke.’
The Phoenix Newspaper has got it wrong: smokers don’t enjoy smoking, though they may think they do, and smokers are never relaxed – particularly before boarding a flight.
Smoking should be forbidden everywhere inside airport terminal buildings. At Heathrow, for example, smoking is only permitted in designated areas outside the terminal building; they don’t look very comfortable – and, I might add – nor should they be.
It’s not as if smokers are discriminated against, although they may feel they are, by having to go outside to smoke. They discriminate against themselves – by their compulsion to keep inhaling poisonous tobacco smoke. Should airports facilitate this behaviour?
Those who run airports may say it’s not their place to try and reform smokers, but why do they have to provide modern comfortable facilities for them?
Let’s suppose the powerful new ventilation system in Frankfurt Airport’s comfortable modern smoking lounges is completely successful in preventing the slightest whiff of tobacco fumes seeping into the surrounding areas and further, that these powerful new ventilation systems prevent any third-hand smoke poisons from adhering to the surfaces within the lounges. In such an imaginary scenario, are people who are not nicotine addicts, that is, normal people or non-smokers, supposed to feel grateful for the wonders of modern ventilation technology?
The implication of Frankfurt Airport seems to be that the default position is that non-smokers (and if we were talking about cocaine addicts, are people who are not addicted to cocaine referred to as non-cocaine users?) should have to accommodate or put up with the needs of nicotine addicts and if they can’t avoid cigarette fumes in public places should just shrug their shoulders and hold their noses.
This is indeed what normal people are expected to do in all the German cities I have visited, where smokers regularly congregate outside buildings. It’s not just the stink, but it’s actually dangerous because exhaled tobacco smoke contains many poisonous chemicals.
And what comeback do normal people have against nicotine addicts? If annoyed by someone smoking are they supposed to approach the perpetrator and say, ‘Excuse me, does my non-smoking bother you?’
To change the widely held perception of the normality of smoking, I propose that the term ‘non-smoker’ be abandoned. Henceforth there should be an explicit distinction between those who ‘use’ nicotine and those who don’t. The former should be known for what they are – nicotine addicts – and referred to as such, whereas those who are not in this predicament should be called normal people.
Text © Gabriel Symonds