Monday, February 23, 2004

Smoke and the City 

I used to dream of one day visiting Paris, but after watching the final episode of Sex and the City last night, I think the City of Lights should be renamed the City of Lighters. I believe I just might suffocate in that city.

I am old enough to remember when people used to smoke anywhere and everywhere -- restaurants, the teacher’s lounge at school, movie theatres, my family’s and friend’s homes, grocery stores, etc. I guess I was naïve enough to think that most of that smoke had been blown away by the strong breeze that is the reality of cancer and emphysema. But not in Paris! It appears as though the only place you cannot smoke in Paris is an art gallery.

Mon dieu! What are they thinking?

Last I heard, only 23% of Americans were smokers. (Somehow they always seem to end up standing next to me in any crowd, but that’s a story for another day.) Sex and the City made it look as though that number must be the percentage of NON-smokers in Paris – people were lighting up everywhere on that show! And they all seemed to languish in it, sucking in hard and blowing out slow and steady, usually in the direction of somebody else's face as though the smoke were some delicious stream of perfume they wanted to share.

In one scene, Carrie and Victor are on the street and she lights up. Expecting him to say something negative about her smoking (like her friends back in NYC always did), she questions him about it. He feeds her some line about everybody in Paris smoking and that it looking sexy to him. As he jumps into a cab she laughingly calls after him “But it’s killing me!” He just laughs back, shuts the door, and speeds away.

Not to be over analytical about what is, after all, just a television show, but I think that line was put in there to underscore the fact that Victor didn’t care enough about Carrie to even try and stop her from smoking.

OK, I am climbing up on my soapbox for just a second…bear with me.

According to the World Health Organization, smoking is the second major cause of death in the world. It is currently responsible for the death of one in ten adults worldwide (about 5 million deaths each year). If current smoking patterns continue, it will cause some 10 million deaths each year by 2025. Half the people that smoke today -that is about 650 million people- will eventually be killed by tobacco.

So if you know somebody who smokes, care enough to try and help them stop smoking. If you smoke, care enough about yourself and those you influence to stop smoking.

OK, I am off the soapbox now.

As for me, I won’t be going to Paris anytime soon. And neither will Carrie.

She and Big are getting married and living happily ever after in New York, where you cannot smoke in most public places. Perhaps I will visit them there one day...
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