Monday 6 August 2007

Turkey's tobacco addiction

There is nowhere like Turkey for smoking. It must be where the phrase 'smoking like a chimney' was invented. Sitting outside in an otherwise charming harbourside fish restaurant trying to enjoy dinner is impossible when your neighbour is a chain smoker who manages to put away half a dozen cigarettes whilst eating his own fish plate. Nobody asks do you mind, nor do they care if you do. Only public transport and the excellent internal airlines are smoke free. Bans at airports are ignored and unenforced. Non-smoking areas are non-existent in most hotels, bars and restaurants (though Istanbul is getting better on this score). For me, it was like stepping back twenty-five years to a time when cinemas in Dublin were fume-laden, the student bar at UCD was fume-ridden and the notion that Ireland might lead Europe as a beacon in the no-nicotine stakes would have given Frank Carson a run for his money in the Irish joke stakes. There were those who laughingly claimed that our new smoking ban was an infringement of civil liberties. In Turkey, non-smokers have none where tobacco is concerned.

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