Smok­ing: Free­dom Worth Dy­ing For?

METROPOLE - Vienna in English - - OPINION -

As the door to Café Ein­horn opens, a draft of icy win­ter air surges into the room. For a fleet­ing mo­ment, our lungs suck in the oxy­gen be­fore it dis­solves into the yel­low haze of dozens of cig­a­rettes, pre­serv­ing the bar’s rep­u­ta­tion as one of the smok­i­est in Vienna. Tourists and ex­pats are of­ten amazed to find you can still smoke in bars and restau­rants in Vienna – and re­port be­ing be­wil­dered by the bla­tant ig­no­rance of the health ben­e­fits of a smok­ing ban. For many, it’s their first run-in with an “Aus­trian so­lu­tion” – one where a way is found to make space for both sides of an ar­gu­ment. For those con­cerned with health con­se­quences, many places are smoke free. But if space al­lows, bars and restau­rants can of­fer both, and small Lokale can choose. Plenty of op­tions; ev­ery­body’s happy. Some restau­rants had even re­turned to the cour­te­sies of ear­lier times when smok­ing was only al­lowed once the kitchen was closed. Good man­ners can make laws un­nec­es­sary. But there was still that EU di­rec­tive hang­ing over Aus­tria’s col­lec­tive head, and in Au­gust 2015, a com­plete smok­ing ban was passed to take ef­fect in May 2018, un­der ve­he­ment protest from the restau­rant in­dus­try. To some, it seemed we had fi­nally come to our senses. And then, the new gov­ern­ment re­versed the de­ci­sion once again, call­ing off the smok­ing ban. Vice chan­cel­lor H.C. Stra­che, a onepack-a-day man him­self, voiced pub­licly what many Aus­tri­ans only dare say from the safety of their Stammtisch: We will not let those “Großkopferte” (big­wigs) take away our free­dom. We will keep smok­ing –even if it kills us. Back at the Ein­horn, the bar­tender lights up another ci­garette. The Sex Pis­tols are play­ing from the dusty speak­ers, sup­port­ing his cry for revo­lu­tion – or in this case, the lack of one. Aus­trian smok­ers have won the bat­tle. And even if the war isn’t over yet, at least for tonight, all’s well in their nico­tine-filled world.

An­dreas Rainer Reg­u­lar Con­trib­u­tor

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Austria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.