3 July 2020

A café terrace


Two tables, four chairs, two ashtrays.

***

In spite of a preoccupation with la santé publique (public health) and the many precautions surrounding le Covid in France, ironically, smoking continues as before, as evidenced by ashtrays set out on terrace tables at many cafés and restaurants. Before smoking inside restaurants was prohibited I'd been working on a book, "The Non-Smokers Guide To Paris," but while my co-authors and I were still researching and compiling information the ban came into effect and in truth, it was a welcome development. When the law first appeared it clearly stated that besides interiors, enclosed terraces would be subject to the new smoke-free rules. But in no time at all smokers and their smoke invaded all terraces. Owners turned a blind eye; many of their regulars were smokers, as were they. I’d grown up around cigarettes; my father had been a chain smoker for awhile and, it seemed, so were all of his French friends who’d spend hours together all talking at the same time, puffing away. Smoking was not stigmatized, it was a choice, an after-dinner plaisir enhanced by an espresso and I chose not to take it up, nor was I tempted (deaths in France due to smoking-related illnesses are high but accurate stats are hard to come by). So I shouldn't have been surprised when the prolific tabac quietly showed up on the list of “essential purchases only” establishments allowed to stay open, along with supermarkets, gas stations and pharmacies during our confinement. While Paris, as any large city, has its share of noxious fumes and air pollution, for me, one thing that's come out of all this is that masks make sense. Even when this is all over, I don’t think I will leave home without one. BPJ

No comments: :

Post a comment