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  • When There's Smoke There's Fire: Italy Faces Smoking Ban
    Our Paesani

    by Francesca Di Meglio

    JANUARY 16, 2005 - When I used to walk into a bar or discothèque in Italy, I felt as though I was taking a nicotine shower as a film of dense smoke layered itself on my clothes, skin, and hair. That's why as a non-smoker who travels to Italy often, I was thrilled that the new year heralded a smoking ban in all of Italy's closed public spaces including restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. The question remains whether most of Italy is celebrating with me.

    After the new year parties were over, the 14 to 16 million Italian smokers had to put out their butts. According to the law, which was voted into the books in 2002, smoking can only take place in a special room with proper ventilation in all public enclosed spaces. It's up to owners to decide whether to build such a room, and so far only about 5 percent have done so. The cost seems to keep them from going head with construction. Businesses face a fine of up to 2,000 euros if they fail to keep clients from lighting up. Those smokers who ignore the law will have to pay as much as 275 euros if they're repeat offenders. A Napoletano was the first to light up hours after the law went into effect. He was fined 27.50 euros, according to BBC News.

    Many Italians - even a lawmaker or two - are fuming over the law because they say it's a violation of their rights. But as the fog lifts, non-smokers who are sick and tired - literally in some cases - of being the victims of second-hand smoke are jumping for joy. From beauty queens to foreign transplants, these Italians realize that the haze of smoke they had been walking through was clogging their lungs, making them stink and, more or less, forcing them to smoke cigarettes whether they wanted to or not. Like me, these folks are hoping that a smoking ban encourages their friends to give up the nasty life-threatening habit.

    If you or a friend still light up, here are some tips for quitting:

    • When you have the urge to smoke, drink a nice glass of water or chew on gum.
    • If you're one to smoke after a meal, get up and brush your teeth as soon as you swallow that last bite.
    • Buy packets with fewer cigarettes in them so that you automatically start to cut back. Or you can buy a brand of cigarettes that you don't like, so that you won't crave them as much after smoking one.
    • You can talk to a doctor about methods like the patch.
    • Calculate the amount of money you waste on cigarettes every year. If you're the average smoker, you can probably save bundles, money that you could instead use to take a special vacation or buy a super sexy outfit that shows off the new, healthier you.

    Are smoking bans an infringement of rights or the right thing to do? Drop me a note at to let me know what you think.


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