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September 16, 2016

Smoking Travellers: The Epitome of Selfishness

Disclaimer: This post is infused with pregnancy hormones and a mother-to-be’s instincts to protect her unborn child.

smoking in europe

I find a spot on the beach where there are only a couple of cigarette butts as opposed to dozens, bury them under the sand with my foot and lay down my towel. Just as I begin to appreciate the surrounding scenery and breath in the fresh sea air the person near-by ‘lights up’. A few moments later my view is hazed by a cloud of toxic smoke and my lungs are heaving, causing me to cough unpleasantly.

I have never been a smoker, but I never actually realised how much I disliked breathing in other people’s second hand smoke until the smoking ban was brought in in the UK in the year 2007. Until this time smoking was an everyday part of life, whether you chose to purchase a pack of cigarettes or not. You could see the smoke pour out the door as you entered a pub on a cold winter’s night, your clothes would smell if you had been in a public indoor place and most people would not think twice about smoking in a confined space around pregnant women or children.

Over the past nine years however public attitude and awareness has changed exponentially in the UK. Most people don't smoke nowadays, it's far less ‘fashionable’, incredibly expensive and if having to go out in the cold, wet British weather on your own isn't an incentive not to ‘light up’ then I don't know what else. Not only this, people who do choose to smoke are generally much more conscious than they used to be, asking if you mind if they smoke, stepping away when doing so and not smoking around children. The recent law banning smoking in a car with this under 18 was a particularly good introduction if you ask me.

Unfortunately, however, this social evolution doesn't seem to have taken hold in many other parts of the world. Whilst in part I can understand this in developing countries such as India or Morocco, where smoking is rife, but public education is less developed, I simply do not understand this in Europe. A couple of years ago I wrote a post entitled Trashy Kusadashi, where I had been horrified by the level of smoking on the beach, which I referred to as a giant ash tray. I will never understand why people dump their cigarette butts, a litter which is not usually bio-degradable, on the very beach that they wish to lay on and enjoy. In this particular instance it was impossible to find a clean area of the beach.

Smoking Travellers: The Epitome Of Selfishness

This year I visited Greece, and while the extent to which tourists smoked was less than Turkey, the level was still unpleasantly high. If you want to fill your body with discussing, poisonous gases, that is up to you, but to inflict that upon other people who cannot avoid breathing in your second hand smoke, that in my opinion is one of the most selfish things that you can do. I longed to sit on the beach, walk down the street or eat my dinner at a restaurant without the inevitable smoke cloud engulfing my lungs which inevitably filters through to my unborn child, but I can honestly say that I'm not sure I had this luxury once during my two and a half week road trip.

Despite the introduction of a smoking ban, similar to the UK, Greece appears not to enforce it. Hotels have ash trays in the rooms and restaurants on the tables. One day I watched a mother breath her smoke all over her child before she proceeded to burn him with her cigarette, much to my dismay she didn't even check to see if the child was OK or apologise, just told him to stop crying and continued her conversation. To me, this is horrific and extremely selfish behaviour. Whilst I have given the examples of Turkey and Greece here I would like to highlight that many European countries have similar smoking habits. 

When I travel I want to experience the beauty that the country has to offer. I want to smell the olive trees, I want to breath in the clean mountain air, I want to taste the spices of the local tzasiki. I do not want all of this tainted by smoke that not only smells and tastes absolutely disgusting, but also has the potential to kill me. The intention of this post is not to rant like a hormonal pregnant lady (which I’m sure plays a role), but also to raise awareness. If you choose to smoke then that is your choice, but don't spoil the very environment you have travelled to see by leaving your litter on the floor. Don't spoil other people’s meals by clouding them with smoke in the restaurant. Don't take away people’s clean air by replacing it with toxic gasses that are inevitable unavoidable even if the non-smoker tries their best to move away from you. Think about your actions and be a little bit more selfless. Passive smoking has a proven link to cancer, you can read more about this here.

Lets raise awareness on this issue and let these smokers realise just how much it impacts other people when they ‘light up’ in public!

Leave a comment
  1. […] this experiment yield the most reliable data?’ quickly turns into ‘will I be subjected to less passive smoking if I sit to the left or the right of that smoking couple in the restaurant’? Pre-PhD you might […]

  2. Shourov Dhar says:

    Very importent post . Thank you for sharing this post

  3. […] smoking bans. There are but a handful of places that strictly enforce the smoking ban. If you are not keen on eating or having drinks in the midst of smokers make sure to sit outside where the smoke will not be as unbearable. Places like Avli, which is a […]

  4. […] this experiment yield the most reliable data?’ quickly turns into ‘will I be subjected to less passive smoking if I sit to the left or the right of that smoking couple in the restaurant’? Pre-PhD you might […]

  5. Phil Fearon, ex BA Flight Engineer says:

    Just returned from a holiday in Sydney,Australia, no smoking on beaches or dogs, a real delight

  6. I agree, and we deal with the same issue here in the US. I live in a state that luckily banned smoking in all restaurants a few years ago, but they need to get better at enforcing it during outdoor family-friendly events.

  7. Very well said, I couldn’t agree with you more. I have children and this whole issue really grates on me

  8. Danielle says:

    I will never forget when my daughter was playing in the sand and I saw she has dug up and was about to try to eat someones old cigerate butt. It made me so mad that people ruin beautiful places like the beach not just with their butts, but with their other trash too.

  9. Ashley Voicu says:

    There should be designated place for them, as it is on other countries. I dont smoke but everyone should just responsible and considerate when doing so.

  10. tara8910 says:

    My dad use to smoke. I never got use to it even though I lived with it! Now my kids hate it as much as I do!

  11. One of my husbands biggest pet peeves is when a driver throws their cigarette butt out of the window. Garbage can people!

  12. this is so sad, i dont smoke and dont keep friends who smoke, wel its all about choice but this one is a bad bad incident…

  13. My boyfriend smokes but I don’t. That story is horrific.


    michenn Accessorizing with ThePeachBox

  14. I can’t believe that mother burned her child with her cigarette! Thankfully, southern California is enforcing no smoking in more public areas, but many, many parts of the world still need to be educated.

  15. Lay says:

    Smokers who aren’t conscious of their surroundings and who their smoking might affect are the worst. I’ve never understood the habit but I hope this improves for you all over in Europe.

  16. I cannot stand cigarettes, YUCK. I have a right to not breathe smoke.

  17. Jennifer says:

    I always hate finding cigarette butts at playgrounds. In my neighborhood, we got a new playground and there’s already a collection of cigarette butts! What’s even worse is some of those leftover cigarettes are from the ground crew! My 15 month old had picked up one of the butts and almost put it in his mouth. It’s disgusting, you are right!

  18. andrea says:

    smoking and cig butts are gross. people really have no class

  19. Agreed! I have never liked smoking but as I’ve gotten older, I have no problem sharing my distaste for it! In my travels, views on smoking really do vary from place to place.

  20. ohmummymia says:

    I hate it especially now when I have baby:/

  21. ruxandrasoare says:

    Smoking it so dangerous for both smokers and non smokers around

  22. I cannot agree more! Smoking is gross and can ruin an atmosphere instantly for a non-smoker. Not to mention the stink infused in fabrics. While in China, they allowed smoking in the ELEVATORS with ashtrays set up!! I could hardly breathe! Please take care in these smokey areas!

  23. idrisstwist says:

    I am not a big fan of smokers. I hate finding cigarette butts everywhere in my garden. I really wish smoking would just disappear.

  24. Amy Shellman says:

    i think that is so gross… Seeing cigarette butts all over a beach just destroys it and makes me sad that people are so disrespectful of others and the beauty in the world.. You hit the nail on the head with the word selfishness!

  25. Rebecca says:

    Smoking is a nasty habit to break. I never smoked mostly because, besides health reasons, I just can’t stand the smell and the yellow stain on everything. Seeing cigarette butts everywhere just annoys me. I wish smokers would stop polluting public places and take their butts with them. Making everyone else suffer for their choice is very selfish. I want to breath clean air and smell the flowers and taste my food.

  26. fatima says:

    You’re right, Smoking is something we don’t want in our environment especially when pregnant, it just shows we’re not conscious of the harm we’re doing, lets raise awareness and respect earth and all life forms, as then smoking will automatically disappear.

  27. Katrina says:

    I seriously can’t stand smokers! I don’t care if you do but I don’t want to smell it around me our see that litter everywhere!

  28. Amber says:

    Ick, I so hate breathing in smoke. So disgusting.

  29. I can definitely relate to this, I remember stepping on a lit cigarette butt at a water park as I kid, and the guy yelled at my parents and said it was my fault for being barefoot…. at a waterpark…

  30. Ugh! When my husband smoked, i swear my backyard was covered in it! Drove me crazy!

  31. Ivonne says:

    I am Canadian and in my city people cannot smoke in public places like parks and certain beaches and most outdoor venues.

  32. I honestly don’t understand the smoking addiction. It smells horrible to the outsider I cant even try to imagine what that horrible thing tastes like. But you are so right if they want to poison themselves do it in private don’t force the rest of us to do so.

  33. Smoking is disgusting. As a child I can remember lecturing my mother about doing so. I could not imagine being on vacation and having endure someones cigarette smoke. The story of the mother and child truly saddens me. Some people just should not have children.

  34. Tiffany says:

    Smoking is a habit that affects everyone and everything…

  35. womanpulse says:

    The laws are similar here in the US. It is a shame more people don’t have common courtesy.

  36. Jenni says:

    I didn’t realise it had been that long since it was banned indoors. I really don’t like it when people light up aro
    und children x

  37. I recently went to Brighton and again there were cigarette buts all over the beach. Its awful as kids were playing in the sand and picking them up.

  38. Kara AWNTY says:

    This!! I hate smoking with a passion and was horrified when we went to Disneyland Paris and people were smoking all over the park……. A KIDS PARK. We live in Bournemouth and the amount of cigarette butts on the beach is disgusting. Hope it didn’t spoil your holiday too much

  39. Kintan says:

    Sorry to heard about this. But absolutely smooking is really disgusting when yourself non-smooking. Hopefully that you still had a great holiday and enjoy some beautiful nature and things around you.

  40. Shirley says:

    Very informative post worth sharing and everyone should read it.Yes, we should aware the people how much it impacts other people when they ‘light up’ in public!

  41. Cigarette butts are nasty . Each morning i find it everywhere in the tree planters to the corridors outside my house. Not only does it not look nice, but it signifies that someone somewhere is destroying their lungs with this slow poison. i hope people understand how destructive it is in time.

  42. Bendy Beauty says:

    Cigarette butts have to be some of the nastiest litter there is! There’s a tree in a planter outside the door of my local train station and the planter is always full of them, I’m constantly amazed that the weedy little tree is somehow still struggling on!


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